The History of Valentine’s Day

Where did Valentine’s Day come from? Is it a holiday invented by the greeting card industry to get into my pocket book? Justin Holcomb and The Resurgence shed a some light on the subject:

No one is quite sure where Valentine’s Day comes from. While any specific theory of its origins must be held at arm’s length, most people do agree that the holiday, as we know it today, contains a blend of practices inherited from a pagan Roman festival, fifth-century Christianity, and the Middle Ages.

Along with a helpful and interesting history lesson, Holcomb offers a healthy challenge for Christians celebrating Valentine’s Day today:

Whereas a holiday like Halloween is still quite contentious among some Christians because of its history and the pagan symbolism tied up with its contemporary practice, Valentine’s Day today is almost completely disconnected from its pagan origins and has evolved into a completely different holiday. Few Christians would argue that participating in Valentine’s Day in 2013 means immersing oneself in pagan practices, yet the question still remains: How can Christians celebrate the holiday in a way that does justice to the deep Christian concept of love and doesn’t turn into a trite piece of consumerist memorabilia?

If you find yourself rushing around today to buy last–minute cards, teddy bears, flowers, and chocolates, then it might be worthwhile to spend a little time giving this question some thought. The clock is ticking—you only have 365 days left to plan for Valentine’s Day 2014.

February 14, 2013