By David Bragg
February fourteenth is one of American's favorite holidays as they spend about twenty billion dollars as an expression of love towards "that special someone." According to IBISWorld, $866 million will be spent on cards, $2.9 billion on candy, $1.8 billion on flowers and nearly $10 billion on romantic dinners. But what is so special about Valentine's Day?
Like many modern holidays, Valentine's Day has deep roots in religious and secular history. Many secular scholars trace it back to pagan religious observances called Lupercalia. Among Roman Catholic scholars the roots of Valentine's Day are often traced to religious leaders martyred in the third Christian century (498 A.D.).
According to History.com, while imprisoned just for being a Christian, Valentine is said to have fallen in love with a young maiden (some accounts identify her as the jailer's daughter). Just prior to his death on February fourteenth, Valentine sent a letter to his beloved confirming his affection for her. The note concluded with the words, "From your Valentine."
In reality, there is much confusion about the specific identification of this man named Valentine, with many opposing and contradictory legends surrounding his imprisonment and death. Once recognized as the patron saint of love and marriage February fourteenth began to flourish as St. Valentine's Day.
Today Valentine's Day is a completely secular holiday observed with long standing traditions. Its history reveals roots in religion, but not in the Bible, which is sad, because our modern world REALLY needs to understand true Biblical love.
- David Bragg serves as one of the ministers at the Northwest Church of Christ in Greensboro, NC and is co-editor of BulletinGold. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://www.nwchurchofchrist.com/