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Is Valentine’s Day Christian?

Love Blooms: A Christian Perspective on Valentine’s Day

February brings with it the thought of Cupid’s arrow striking people until they fall in love. Valentine’s Day is upon us and that means we need to consider how we celebrate and where exactly our traditions come from. Is Valentine’s Day Christian and should we recognize and celebrate it as part of the Christian church? 

Much ink has been spilled regarding whether Valentine’s Day should be considered a Christian holiday, and the answer may not be so straightforward. 

Origins of Valentine’s Day

Some holidays clearly fall under the purview of the Christian church, including All Saint’s Day and Pentecost Sunday. But where does Valentine’s Day fall? 

In the beginning, this holiday was designated to honor Christian martyrs who gave their lives for the faith they professed. Pope Gelasius I created a feast day to honor Saint Valentine on the day of his death. Some historians believe there may have been more than one Saint Valentine martyred and honored on this initial feast day. 

How did this become associated with the holiday of undying love and affection celebrated so widely today? 

That is because there are multiple saints honored on this day, and there are also multiple origin stories for the celebration of love. In one account, Valentine fell in love with a woman during his imprisonment for preaching the Gospel. Some accounts say that she was the jailer’s blind daughter, whom he later healed.

Other accounts of the origins of this romantic holiday believe that Valentine held romance in high esteem. Against the Emperor’s orders, he secretly married couples to help men avoid being drafted for the war. 

Regardless of the exact story that shapes this holiday, it is generally believed that Emperor Claudius II was the man who ordered Valentine’s execution. 

Is Valentine’s Day Christian? 

While certain elements might lead people to believe Valentine’s Day is Christian, the first celebrations might have been less than holy. Some historians believe that Valentine’s Day originated as a pagan festival and was later adopted by the church to honor Saint Valentine. 

This original holiday was known as Lupercalia, and it served as a fertility festival among the people of Rome. Conveniently, it was celebrated on February 15th each year. It served to honor the Roman god of fertility, Lupercus.

Lupercalia celebrated the story of Romulus and Remus, two boys who were sent to be drowned in the river. Instead of meeting their demise, they were taken care of by a loving wolf until they were adopted by another family. The pagan fertility festival is named after the wolf’s den, deemed Lupercal. 

While this pagan festival celebrated fertility, it wasn’t the gentle and loving affair that we have come to recognize as Valentine’s Day. Instead, it was a day steeped in animal sacrifice with the intent being to ward off evil spirits. Many people formed couples on this day, which some believe is where the idea of a “love” holiday originated. 

Early Catholic Church leaders could have wanted to take his pagan holiday and transform it into something more palatable for their parishioners. 

When Did Valentine’s Day Become About Love? 

While there are rich tapestries of history behind this celebration that stem back to the early Roman Empire, the connection between Valentine’s Day and love may be a bit more modern. Most people credit Chaucer with the addition of romantic love into the canon. 

His poem, “The Parliament of Foules,” is often thought to be the most significant reason why we celebrate our undying love on February 14th. It says (in Old English) that this day is the day when birds choose their mates. 

This was all the encouragement that many modern people needed to consider this day, already associated with fertility, as a day of love. Whether you believe in the idea of Valentine’s secret weddings, the fertility festival of Lupercalia, or the more romantic rendition of Chaucer’s poem, Valentine’s Day is steeped in history. 

Do Christians Celebrate Valentine’s Day? 

While the jury may be out on the exact origins of the heart shapes and love arrows we now associate with Valentine’s Day, it begs the question: is it a secular holiday or is Valentine’s Day Christian? 

Whether you choose to celebrate the Christian saint who gave up his life for the early church or not depends on your vantage point. Some still celebrate the lives of saints who have been martyred for their bold proclamation of the Gospel. If this is still your intention, then there may be no better way to celebrate the day. 

Many people simply want to acknowledge their affection for a significant other — and the greeting card companies rejoice! There’s nothing wrong with using February 14th as an opportunity to tell your loved ones how much they mean to you. 

Just keep in mind that you should share your love with them daily instead of just on these major holidays!

Valentine’s Day and Our Little Roses

This holiday doesn’t necessarily have to be about romantic love and elaborate wedding proposals. Instead, it can include love of all kinds, as Saint Valentine would likely have wanted. 

It may also be a great time to consider expanding your circle of love to include the girls at Our Little Roses. Valentine’s Day could be the driving force you need to demonstrate Christ’s love and give generously toward sharing that love with our girls. 

You can donate now and become a part of the Our Little Roses family by sponsoring a young girl. Your donation acts to empower her through the gift of education, breaking generational chains that have historically held these girls back. Join us in the tremendous work that we are doing to create a brighter future for the girls in our care.