It’s Valentines Day this weekend! Happy Valentine’s Day!

We specialize in marriage and love so we’re supposed to be all enthused about Valentine’s, right!? So, why do we have mixed feelings about it all?

First, some history…

There is no firm historical record of how Valentine’s Day came to be, but there are a couple of commonly held possibilities.

Apparently, there was an ancient Fertility festival called Lupercalia which occurred on February 15th. This lovers’ holiday traces its roots to raucous annual Roman festivals where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility.

Another source we found said that during the festival, young women would place their names in a large urn. The young men would draw a name from the urn and then be romantically linked with that young woman for the following year.

Either way, I’m thankful we’ve moved on to a more commercialized version of Valentine’s Day!

The Catholic church, however, says it has nothing to do with these ancient pagan rites. Rather, the day’s celebration stems from three possible St. Valentines.

The most probable of which was a young priest who was put to death for marrying young Christians against the orders of the Roman Emperor. Before being put to death on February 14th, he sent a letter to the jailor’s daughter – with whom he had become friends – and signed if “From your Valentine”.

Regardless of which Valentine the holiday is named after, in 469 A.D. Pope Gelasius changed the date of Lupercalia from the 15th of the month to the 14th, in order to distance it from the rituals of the Roman pagan love festival and connect it with St. Valentine.

The last alternative of the history of the Valentine story is also probable.

The Roman Emperor at the time, Claudius II, prohibited young men to marry because he believed that unmarried men made better soldiers. St. Valentine took pity on these young men and began to perform secret marriages so they could be with their lovers. Emperor Claudius became aware of what St. Valentine was doing and had him imprisoned.

Emperor Claudius attempted to convert Valentine to worship the Roman god, but St. Valentine refused and in return attempted to convert the Emperor to Christianity. Emperor Claudius did not respond well to this and sentenced Valentine to be killed. After his death, Valentine then became what is known as a “Patron Saint.” Some consider him the spiritual overseer of an annual festival in which young Romans would distribute cards of affection to those they wished to formally see. This festival was held each February 14.

Apparently, there are Valentine cards in museums worldwide that date back to 1415 and massed produced valentines began in the 1840s with the first “chocolate box” introduced by Richard Cadbury in 1868.

Back to today…

Here are some interesting statistics:

  • In 2014, the National Retail Federation estimated that US Consumers would spend $17.3 billion on the Valentines Day holiday! OVER $17 BILLION!!!
  • Women purchase 85% of all Valentine’s
  • 64% of men will buy flowers on Valentine’s Day.

This raises the interesting subject of expectations! What do we expect of each other? And what do others expect of us?

For us, we just see this as a commercial event. There is NO RESEARCH that says that the billions of dollars spent on Valentines in North America actually do anything to benefit marriages.

We don’t need it for our marriage, but we don’t want to Grinch your Valentine’s either. Some folks have a very warm, romantic tradition around Valentine’s – and that’s awesome!

What makes us start to grumble is what others expect of us. That’s where you have to have your own love languages and set boundaries on other’s expectations of you. And both be ok, together, on that!

Talk to your spouse about your expectations for this holiday. You might be ok with not doing anything, but if the girls at the office hear you don’t get anything, will that make you feel bad? Or maybe, you could really care less about receiving flowers and chocolates knowing that society guilted your spouse into buying them. Or perhaps you have very strong expectations that your spouse do certain things, and your spouse doesn’t feel that way… That could get awkward unless you tell your spouse what you’re expecting from the day!

Chocolates and flowers may last a week or two, but this Valentine’s, why not give something that will deepen your intimacy for the rest of your marriage. The gift of communicating, the gift of listening!

Image courtesy of AquaOwl under the Creative Commons license.