The Liturgical Home: Saint Valentine’s Day

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Saint Valentine’s Day is almost here! Get ready to be bombarded with cupids, shooting arrows, red roses, and little candy hearts in pastel colors with phrases like “be mine” and “love you.” It’s time to get really stressed about making sure your child has Valentines for all of the kids in their class and whether or not you have a reservation at your favorite restaurant.

Valentine’s Day has become a hyper-commercialized day on which, this year alone, spending is expected to reach $25.9 billion, one of the highest-spending years on record, according to the National Retail Federation. This year it is predicted that the average American will spend around $192.80 on candy, cards, flowers, and gifts for friends, loved ones, classmates, and even coworkers, up from $175.41 in the previous year.

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The Story of Saint Valentine

So, how did we start celebrating Valentine’s Day in the first place? Well, the day was originally known as Saint Valentine’s Day. It was the day that the church celebrated a man named Valentine. St. Valentine was similar to all of the saints that we celebrate. He felt a call to serve the Lord and then dedicated his life to serving the Lord and others. He lived during a time of intense brutality towards, and persecution of, Christians. He tried to faithfully follow the Lord and was martyred because of it.

St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. Emperor Claudius was known as “Claudius the Cruel” and devoted his energy to long and bloody wars. Emperor Claudius noticed that getting soldiers to join his military was becoming increasingly difficult. He believed that the men were reluctant to fight because they did not want to leave their wives and families. A simple solution for Emperor Claudius was to ban all engagements and marriages in Rome.

St. Valentine strongly disagreed with Claudius and he defied the emperor by continuing to perform marriages in secret. Eventually, St. Valentine’s actions were made known to the emperor and Claudius ordered that he be put to death. St. Valentine was arrested and brought before the Prefect of Rome where he was beaten to death and beheaded around the year 270 AD. 

Romantic Love & Love of Christ

Because Saint Valentine was martyred for defying the emperor and marrying couples, his feast day is associated with romantic love. There is also a legend that while he was in jail, he became friends with his jailer’s daughter. He left her a note saying goodbye and signed it “From Your Valentine.” This is why little notes of affection are exchanged on the day known as valentines.

Regardless of the specifics of his life, it is important to remember that we celebrate St. Valentine first and foremost because of his love and faithfulness to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  We see in Valentine not only romantic love, but also the self-sacrifice love of Christ. Christians remember him for his willingness to stand for righteousness in the midst of evil and persecution even if it meant that he would be killed. While we don’t need to do away with any of the traditions associated with Valentine’s Day, it’s also good to remember the real reason we celebrate.

So have fun with those around you! Give flowers, candy, or notes of love. Do what you would normally do, but also remember why and offer thanks to God for his faithful saint, Valentine!

Celebrate the Attributes of Godly Love

If you and your family would like a more meaningful way to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day, here are some easy ideas:

Read 1 Corinthians 13 as a family. This is a great opportunity to read about what true, Godly love is like. Discuss with your children how the divine love described in this chapter is different from the love that you see depicted in movies. Focus especially on the attributes of love:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)

Share the love of Christ with those around you by making your own “Valentines” for loved ones in your life. Include an attribute of love mentioned in the 1 Corinthians 13 passage. 

Finally, make sugar cookies in the shape of hearts, and use frosting to write on top the attributes of love!

Recipe for Saint Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond flavoring
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

(For the Icing)
Confectioner’s sugar
Red food coloring or beetroot powder
Whole milk

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg and extracts. Sift flour, soda, and cream of tartar together. Add to butter mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill overnight. Roll out and cut into heart shapes. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes. Divide the confectioner’s sugar into bowls, depending on however many shades of pink you want. Add varying amounts of coloring to the bowls. Add just enough milk to each bowl to make a thick, spreadable icing. Use the icing to write the attributes of love on the top of your cookies!


Photo by Africa Images, courtesy of Canva.

Published on

February 13, 2023

Author

Ashley Tumlin Wallace

Ashley Tumlin Wallace, the author of the Liturgical Home series of books and articles at Anglican Compass, is a homeschooling mom of four and the wife of an Anglican priest. She and her family live in the panhandle of Florida.

View more from Ashley Tumlin Wallace

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