Doily hearts, red construction paper, glue and yarn-this is what comes to mind when Valentineís Day is mentioned. It is not certain exactly how this custom of giving gifts and love messages on February 14th began. Itís possible that this holiday custom dates back to ancient Rome. Valentineís Day is actually two days of celebration in one.
Some say the traditions began with the Roman festival called Lupercalia in honor of the god called Lupercus, held on February 15th. This was a festival that celebrated Lupercus, the god who would keep the wolves away which were dangerous during ancient Rome times.
What we are more familiar with is the Christian story. Valentine, a priest that was killed around A.D. 270 during persecution of the early Christians, was canonized (made a saint); his feast day was recognized on the fourteenth of February.
Later, the church wanted to try to change the secular custom by asking people to draw saintís names out of boxes and to imitate the virtues of the saints whose names they drew. This didnít work, yet it still ended up being the two festivals combined together.
Gifts were the first tradition of giving. Later came the poems and quotes, around the 17th century. By the 1800ís greeting cards made especially for St. Valentineís Day started to appear.
Today, we look at Valentines a bit differently. Thousands of years ago, our creator sent us a valentine. Jesus. (John 3:16 NIV) ďFor God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.Ē God sent His valentine, Jesus, to the world. He loves everyone one of us. Whether we are in the United States, Africa, Israel or the Artic, He loves us, every single part of His creation. He loves us so much that He built a bridge between the world and heaven that we may live with Him in eternal life. Can you even fathom that amount of love? To love someone so much that you send your only child, knowing that your child will die just for the recipient to spend the rest of eternity with you. Wow, what a thought. I donít think we will totally understand the caliber of His love until we go to our Heavenly Home.
Just the thought of that makes me want to celebrate Valentines in a whole new light. I may not be able to love to that extent, but I sure am going to try to show my loved ones how I feel and share the love that God has shown us.
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