Enough To Go Around Spreading The Love On Valentine’s Day

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Millions of people celebrate with their loved ones on Valentine’s Day each year, but no one truly understands the origins of the custom. Most people have a loose idea that the holiday is named after St. Valentine. But which one? The Catholic church has many, and there’s an argument to be made for each of them!

St. Valentine of Rome is the most commonly cited inspiration for the holiday and the most widely celebrated. He lived in the third century and is said to have helped couples marry despite a prohibition on marriage for young men. But others ascribe the same story to St. Valentine of Terni.

Another version holds that St. Valentine fell in love with a woman before being martyred. Supposedly, he wrote her a letter from prison signed, “Your Valentine.”

Regardless of its origins, we know people have celebrated Valentine’s Day since at least the 14th century. In the 1375 poem, “Parliament of Foules,” Geoffrey Chaucer referenced the holiday as a day when everyone can gather and find their mate. He was actually writing about birds, but historians argue there is a connection. Feb. 14 may have been chosen as a day of love to coincide with birds’ mating season!

You can never have too much love, so if you want to keep the celebrations going all year, you have multiple opportunities. Saint Valentine of Viterbo has a feast day on Nov. 3, while we celebrate Saint Valentine of Passau on Jan. 7. We remember the only female Valentine, Saint Valentina, on July 25. And the most widely known Valentine has two Eastern Orthodox holidays on July 6 and 30.

Since there are so many days to celebrate love, my wife Tala and I didn’t see why Feb. 14 needed to be restricted only to couples. Why not use the time to share with others that we love? We began doing exactly that several years ago with a tradition of inviting both of our mothers over to the house for a Valentine’s Day dinner. (Unfortunately, both of our fathers have passed away.)

It’s something we look forward to every year. And while we had to pause it during the pandemic, we hope to resume the tradition this year. We always prepare a homemade dish from a recipe we’ve never tried. We love planning the new meal each February and begin coming up with ideas several weeks in advance. This year we will be blessed and have our two children to share the day as well.

Now that it’s possible, we like to share one of the most expressive, love-filled days of the year with our parents and children. We appreciate the variety and richness that loving relationships bring to our lives. However you celebrate, I wish you a happy Valentine’s Day and a blessed February.


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