Remember loved ones on Valentine’s Day
Americans love holidays.
It seems 2001 has just gotten started and already we're nearing our fourth holiday.
We started the year off with New Year's Day. A few weeks later, it was Martin Luther King's birthday. February took us right into Groundhog Day, which admittedly most people slide right by.
Next up is Valentine's Day.
Before this year, I had never really given much thought to Valentine's Day. Banks aren't closed, the mail goes through and no one I know gets off work in honor of the day.
As far as holidays go, I would have to put Valentine's Day in the same catagory as St. Patrick's Day. You often forget it's here until someone pinches you, or in this case, sends you flowers.
I was talking to a friend recently, however, who has some pretty strong feelings about Valentine's Day.
He told me he refuses to celebrate the romantic holiday. He insists it's a day created solely for the benefit of the floral, card and candy industries. If you love someone, he says, you should show it year round, not when the calendar tells you to.
He may have a point, but I think it's more likely that he's found a clever excuse to avoid shopping for his wife.
Whatever the case, I think his view is a cynical one.
What's wrong with setting aside one day a year to show the one you love how important he or she is to you?
No one's saying Valentine's Day is the only day you should do that, but in today's busy world, I think it's nice to have a built-in reminder.
The discussion made me curious as to the origin of Valentine's Day. Who was Saint Valentine, and how did he earn such an amorous reputation?
Apparently, it depends on whom you ask.
The Internet, which is more handy but often less accurate than an encyclopedia, has many versions of the truth when it comes to Valentine's Day.
According to one site, Valentine was a Roman priest who served during the third century.
When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young, single men.
According to the legend, Valentine realized the injustice of the decree and defied Claudius by secretly continuing to perform marriages.
The ceremonies were reportedly performed in a dark cellar, with only the couple and Valentine present. They talked in whispers, so not to be discovered by the emperor.
Valentine was eventually found out, however, and Claudius ordered that he be beaten to death with clubs and beheaded.
According to the story, Valentine was awaiting death in prison, when he fell in love with a young woman who came to visit him. Some say the woman was the jailor's daughter.
Before his sentence was carried out, Valentine wrote a love letter to her which he signed, "From your Valentine."
Since that day, the slogan has been printed on everything from candy hearts to boxer shorts.
The story of Valentine and Claudius II may not be historically accurate, but it serves its purpose well.
If Valentine could risk death so that others could be together with the ones they love, then the least we can do is buy a box of chocolates or a dozen roses for our loved ones.