Isn’t it wonderful that we have one of the most amazing holidays of the year in the middle of winter? I look out the window and see gray skis and brown grass and bare trees and I long for spring. I’m a huge fan of spring because it gives me a chance to work outside and plant my flower garden. I’ve arranged my planting so that I have flowers blooming from February to November, as long as we don’t receive any surprise snowstorms. As I wait for warm weather, I’m happy to have one day in winter that celebrates love.
There are many legends surrounding this day. Christianity has several martyrs named Valentine so it isn’t clear which one is celebrated by this annual holiday. One martyr named Valentine was persecuted and interrogated by a Roman emperor, Claudius, who became quite fond of him. Valentine was said to have conducted marriage ceremonies for the soldiers who had been forbidden to marry. He wore an amethyst ring with a figure of cupid on the ring. Claudius tried to convert Valentine to paganism, but Valentine refused. While imprisoned awaiting his execution, he healed the jailer’s daughter from her blindness and sent her what has been termed to be the first Valentine card, which he signed as Your, Valentine. To honor him, the jailer’s daughter planted an almond tree near his grave, which is said to still bloom to this day.
Linking romantic love to Valentine’s Day is attributed to Chaucer who wrote a love poem celebrating King Richard II’s engagement. The concept of celebrating love on February 14th evolved over the centuries from courtly celebrations to poems, but it seems that once the merchants found a way to gain profit, the holiday was secured.
I hadn’t realized that other countries revered this holiday as much as Americans until my mother and I traveled to New Zealand one year. After driving all day, we had planned to enjoy a quiet dinner in Invercargill, on the southern tip of the South Island. Our plans were quickly changed when we realized all restaurants had been booked with reservations to celebrate the holiday. We ended up eating dinner at a Pizza Hut where we toasted the holiday with a glass of wine. It was my most memorable Valentine’s Day ever.
I hope this is a special day for you, even if you don’t have someone special in your life and that this is a day that will bring you happiness and joy and is full of surprises. And if this isn’t a day when all your romantic dreams come true, remember, there’s always next year.
Happy Valentine’s Day!