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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Hallmark Day!

February 14th.. 'Hallmark' Day was some of us here at A&G like to call it.

Funny thing about holidays-- with one or two exceptions (New Year's Eve and Labor Day), every holiday marked on the annual calendar cycle is celebrated incorrectly by people in relation to the holiday's original intent.  From St. Patrick's Day to Fourth of July to Christmas-- all religious or political meaning is purposely drained and replaced by consumerism and/or consumption.

Think about how holidays are celebrated today: St. Patrick's day becoming nothing more than an opportunity to drink green beer and for everyone of every race, religion and ethnicity to Pretend they're "Irish" while wearing green clothing.  Fourth of July is an excuse for a 3-day weekend to go to the beach, BBQ, drink and watch NASCAR.   And we know how bastardized Christmas has become over the last 50-60 years since it was first discovered how vital people buying presents for one another was to the economy.

Valentine's Day is no different.  Of course its lovely that a day is set aside for courtship and outward proclamations of love to those we care about.  It is fair to say however that if people demonstrated this on a consistent basis to their sweeties who mean the world to them, there wouldn't be the need to apologize for a calendar year of neglect with one grandiose day to make amends.

Many think Valentine's Day is a secular holiday.  It is not and not meant to be celebrated as such.  So here's a brief history lesson:
With the Roman Empire crumbling at all sides by a severely weakening economy and threats from all borders- the Huns, Slavs, Gauls and Turks, more and more capable men were required to to be recruited as soldiers and officers to protect the nation from takeover. When Claudius II became the emperor, he felt that married men were more emotionally attached to their families, and thus, will not make good soldiers. He believed that marriage made the men weak. So he issued an edict forbidding marriage to assure quality soldiers.

The Romans were in shock but dared not speak out on this edict.  Valentine saw the decree as a great injustice and took great sympathy on those denied the right to marry, so he would perform secret ceremonies.  It was only a matter of time before Claudius II came to know of this and had him arrested.

While awaiting his sentence in prison, Valentine was approached by his jailor, Asterius. It was said that Valentine had some saintly abilities and one of them granted him the power to heal people. Asterius had a blind daughter and knowing of the miraculous powers of Valentine he requested the latter to restore the sight of his blind daughter. The Catholic legend has it that Valentine did this through the vehicle of his strong faith, a phenomenon refuted by the Protestant version which agrees otherwise with the Catholic one. Whatever the fact, it appears that Valentine in some way did succeed to help Asterius' blind daughter.

While imprisoned, Claudius II met with Valentine but he refused to agree with the emperor regarding the ban on marriage. It is also said that the emperor tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods but was unsuccesful in his efforts. Valentine refused to recognize Roman Gods and even attempted to convert the emperor, knowing the consequences fully. This angered Claudius II who gave the order of execution of Valentine.
Meanwhile, a deep friendship had been formed between Valentine and Asterius' daughter. It caused great grief to the young girl to hear of her friend's imminent death. It is said that just before his execution, Valentine asked for a pen and paper from his jailor, and signed a farewell message to her "From Your Valentine," a phrase that lived ever after.  Valentine was an expressor of great love but it wasn't emotional or sexual love but Christian love; the love of his faith.  

Valentine was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion and thus believed to have been executed on February 14, 270 AD. 

Honestly I don't see the masses ever altering how they celebrate Valentine's Day.  Most barely know the historic origins of Christmas or Easter, so it would be unrealistic to expect others to truly understand what Valentine's Day is about-- not love expressed for another person but to express Love of God; a man who would not convert from a belief and love in Christ to that of Roman idoltry.

As we said, Valentine's Day in the modern world, allows super-busy people one day set aside to make amends to their lover or spouse for being a complete bastard or bitch for the other 364 days.  And all the cards, flowers and candlelight dinners usually ends with sex, so who would pass that up, right?