For a celebrant like myself, St Valentine’s Day, with its associations of romanticism, ought to be a big deal.
In practice, in a dozen years as a celebrant, I have never conducted a ceremony on that particular day. So it has less significance than you might have expected for me. It’s also a time when some suppliers (but not me!) put their prices up, which could deter some people. Or perhaps the day is overrated, as far as commitment ceremonies are concerned.
When I was young, St Valentine’s Day was a day when you sent an anonymous card, or some red roses or chocs, to your loved one. You wrote the infamous “SWALK” (Sealed With A Loving Kiss) on the back of the envelope. It was very much a day for the young, and remains so today. Not many cards are sent these days, though.
The special day has developed from unpromising beginnings, and I thought I’d share a bit of its history (courtesy of Wikipedia!).
Valentine’s Day, also called Saint Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honouring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine.
There are a number of martyrdom stories associated with various Valentines connected to February 14, including an account of the imprisonment of Saint Valentine of Rome for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman Empire in the third century. According to an early tradition, Saint Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer. Numerous later additions to the legend have better related it to the theme of love: an 18th-century embellishment to the legend claims he wrote the jailer’s daughter a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution; another tradition posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry.
The day became associated with romantic love in the 14th and 15th centuries when notions of courtly love flourished, apparently by association with the “lovebirds” of early spring. In 18th-century England, it grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”).
Saint Valentine’s Day is not a public holiday in any country, although it is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. Many parts of the Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day on July 6 in honour of Roman presbyter Saint Valentine, and on July 30 in honour of Hieromartyr Valentine, the Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni).
However you choose to mark the occasion, I wish you a pleasant day. Remember, if you plan to marry or get engaged – maybe next year – I can tailor a perfect Valentine’s Day ceremony for you!