Bright Spot in February
Have you ever wondered why Valentine's Day is in the middle of February? No? Am I the only one who asks random curious questions? I know Valentine was a saint, but why February 14th?
The Feast of Saint Valentine
It ends up that the Feast of Saint Valentine was established by Pope Gelasius I in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14th in honor of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died on that date in AD 269. Remarkably, the celebration extended beyond the feast and the church and by the 14th and 15th centuries, the day became associated with romantic love. Geoffrey Chaucer helped foster this idea with his first recorded association of love and Valentine's Day in a poem. By the 18th-century in England, it grew into an occasion in which couples presented flowers, candy, and sent greeting cards and poems.
Until I looked into this, I had no idea that Valentine's Day has been around since the 5th century and observed in our modern sense since the 18th century! This isn't another Hallmark holiday. Yet, for those of us without grade-school children, how many of us actually celebrate the day? Do we still give cards to our Valentines or are they just a token gesture?
Bright Spot in Grey Days
February is a cold month here in the Midwest. Usually snow-filled and often below freezing temperatures. As I am writing this my house is "cracking" from the cold and there are a few snowflakes in the air. The sun is actually a pale glow low in the sky today, which is more of an appearance than we have seen in a few weeks and an improvement over the typical dingy grey sky this time of year.
I know Valentine didn't have a choice about his day of death and Rome is certainly a warmer climate in February, but perhaps those in the Middle Ages in England were on to something when they took the opportunity to express their love to those around them in the middle of February. We need a bright spot in the middle of the grey days, a time to appreciate those we love around us.
Do the Unexpected
I've planned for a while now to send little care packages of treats and notes of love to those family members away in college. Who doesn't love to get mail or something to open especially when it's unexpected? I hadn't thought about that those around me who haven't gone away would love to be seen and shown a little extra love as well. That's probably even more unexpected.
Perhaps this Valentine's Day, if you normally give a card maybe you shouldn't. Let's not do the expected, but instead offer to go for coffee or a walk and give your words in person. If giving a card isn't your style, maybe surprise them this year with one or a handwritten note. I'm excited at the thought of bringing a bright spot in the middle of February to those I love.