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The Deep Beauty and Enigma of Valentine's Day

What is Valentine’s Day? I enjoyed the days of yore and yesteryear from my elementary school years in which every single student received cards. Even the boys received cards from other boys. I liked Valentine’s Day in those days because it was mainly a day to let people know that you care about them and plenty of time was delegated for card writing. Obviously, in the adult world it is a lot more difficult to find the precious free time in which to compose cards and have enough of a grace period in which to send them out to loved ones. I have chosen a select few people to send out cards this year. I am going to mail them to my family, sister, and already took care of sending one to my cherubic, significant other…Alison. Here is a tip for everyone trying to maintain a romantic relationship. It is always a good policy to send your Valentine’s Card and Gift at least a week before February 14thbecause waiting until the last minute is like playing Russian Roulette. Actually, there is one other person who I try to send a Valentine’s card to every single year. I always send out both a Valentine’s card and birthday card to a young woman who works at a bank where I maintain a savings account in my home community. Both days fall very close to one another. I have also taken precautions and made it very clear that if the cards make her uncomfortable then this problem may easily be solved by telling me “nicely” to not bother her only once a year. My goal in life is to still send out some cards to acquaintances even though this has earned me some stalking allegations in the past. It is not fair to expect someone to let go of everything and thus miss out on the large percentage of people that will appreciate such a gesture of kindness. Most people seem to appreciate the cards, which is why they will hopefully continue forever! Back in elementary school, everybody received a Valentine and nobody felt alienated. It was nice with sugar and spice with more sweetness that cannot be found in many other elementary school rituals like a slide show about head lice.

What let’s go back to the question of, “What is Valentine’s Day?” Some people believe it is a conspiracy created by major corporations such as the Hallmark Store to sell billions of dollars in merchandise. The thing is, most of us do not know the origin of this epic holiday that is apparently not important enough to justify a three-day weekend for businesses and school districts. But I researched its origin on Wikipedia and for the first time in 34 years I understand how it began nearly two thousand years ago. It originated as a Western Christian liturgical feast day honoring one or more early saints named Valentinus, and is recognized as a significant cultural and commercial celebration in many regions around the world, although it is not a public holiday in any country. The following is information copied nearly word-for-word from Wikipedia!

Valentine of Rome was a priest in Rome who was martyred in 269 and was added to the calendar of saints by Pope Galesius in 496 and was buried on the Via Flaminia. Saint Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. According to legend, during his imprisonment, Saint Valentine healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius, and before his execution, he wrote her a letter signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell.

The day first became associated with romantic love within the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines"). In Europe, Saint Valentine's Keys are given to lovers "as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart", as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine's Malady) Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

I found that to be very interesting that people believed epilepsy was a curse that could be warded off by the spirit of St. Valentine. It is important to always understand that it is so much more than just a Holiday for greeting cards and consumer consumption. It is about making sacrifices for someone you care about or something you believe in so deeply.

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