By Morris Dean
"Valentine's Day" is short for "Saint Valentine's Day." You may not have known that.
Or that it's also referred to as "the Feast of Saint Valentine"—in liturgical (or church) circles.
So, who was Saint Valentine? I always thought he was an Irish saint or, that is, a Christian missionary to Ireland. But St. Valentine's Day began early in church history as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. Again, according to Wikipedia:
The most popular martyrology [an account of the life and manner of death of a martyr] associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her.Another website identifies at least three Valentinuses, none of whom seems to have been Irish or to have done missionary work in Ireland. And a third website alludes to St. Valentine's having been an adopted Irish saint:
Saint Valentine, patron saint of lovers, is an Irish saint...by adoption at least. His remains can be venerated in the Dublin's Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church.I guess the Irish have done a good PR job, at least on me, for me to think of Valentine's Day "as Irish." Either that or perhaps I'd conflated the day with St. Patrick's Day, which I've never seen shortened to "Patrick's Day."
Did you associate Valentine's Day with Irelend, or think the other day was Patrick's? Let me know by comment, if you would. A recent issue of The New Yorker had a cartoon that I so related to: A psychiatrist says to his patient lying on a couch: "Let's try focusing on your blog posts that do receive comments."
Our contemporary, secular associations with Valentine's Day, according to the same Wikipedia article, started over 600 years ago. The day
was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had 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").Have a happy Thor's Valentine's day!
And, when you comment on whether you, too, associated Valentine's Day with Ireland or thought of the other day as Patrick's, please also let me know whether you know anybody who considers Valentine's Day a religious holiday. I don't, and I'd love to try focusing on the point with my psychiatrist.
Copyright © 2013 by Morris Dean