By Dietrich Preston, Clerk of Salem Quarter. Written ahead of Valentine’s day.
As usual, the December holidays flew by and it’s already the end of January. February is fast approaching and we will be coming up on Valentine’s Day already. Theoretically, Valentine’s day stemmed from the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, a festival occurring on February 15 th that was meant to “purify” the people and promote health and fertility. Lupercalia was also known as Februatus which gives us the month of February. Numerous early Christian martyrs were named Valentine and they were honored on February 14 th . Later they were referred to a singular Valentine of Rome. The Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Gelasius I in 496 A.D.
The European tradition of St. Valentine’s Day has become somewhat marginalized by modern customs connecting the day with romantic love, but I believe the celebration should a larger scope. Valentine’s day can be kind of unappealing or even depressing for those who are single or those whose loved ones have passed on. The ancient Greeks often described three types of love: Eros (romantic love), Philos/Soros (brotherly/sisterly love) and Agape (love between God and human kind). I believe Valentines Day can be celebrated for any and all of these types of love.
Some of the greatest things that Jesus taught was how to treat each other, how to share with each other, how to help each other and to care about each other. Why not have a holiday that celebrates all types of love? Late winter can sometimes be a little blah so it doesn’t hurt to have a reason to be joyful, right? I always did like exchanging Valentine’s Day cards in elementary school so I’m going to hold onto that feeling this mid-February and hopefully that feeling will get me through the winter blues. Spring will be here before we know it.
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