Go Ahead - Love One Another!

I heard someone say the other day that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday. In other words, it’s an artificial holiday invented to increase the profit level of companies that sell cards, candy, flowers, and jewelry. I saw an article recently that called it a “commercial free-for-all” for those companies.

In a way, I see their point. Valentine’s Day isn’t a national holiday like Independence Day or Thanksgiving, and therefore employers are not obligated to give employees a paid day off work. Nor is it a holiday with religious significance, like Christmas or Easter. From what I can gather, in the very early stages of the holiday, February 14 was part of a 3-day pagan fertility festival. It wasn’t until late in the fifth century that a catholic pope named it St. Valentine’s Day and declared it to be a Christian feast day, in what appears to be an attempt to impose some sort of virtue on the festivities. The holiday was later linked to romantic love by English author Geoffrey Chaucer.

Regardless of the origins of Valentine’s Day, in our society it has become a day to express love. Who can argue with that? My husband and I make a point of professing our love for each other throughout the year, in a million different ways. Still, we will exchange cards in honor of this special day, just because we want to take the opportunity to say it one more time.

Expressions of love on Valentine’s Day needn’t be limited to romantic love. My young niece spent several pleasant hours yesterday selecting exactly the right valentine card for each of her friends. I remember doing the same thing – and going through absolute agonies to find the perfect card for the boys in my class, because I didn’t want them to misinterpret a mushy sentiment as a sign that I was interested. And then during our class Valentine party, I opened every little envelope stuffed into my decorated shoebox and tried to read between the lines of the cards those same boys gave me. Another time, I remember feeling warm and happy inside when my grandfather gave me a heart-shaped box of chocolates, because I knew it meant he loved me. And when I got a box of heart-shaped candies with sweet sentiments on them (like “Be Mine!”), I delighted in giving a carefully-selected candy to my mom and sisters, and watching their faces as they read the words that came from my heart to theirs.

What’s wrong with a day devoted to love? It’s a perfect way to tell people you care about them. We should take every opportunity to tell everyone in our lives that we love and appreciate them, but the words don’t always come easily, do they? Some people don’t find it easy to look into the face of the gruff, elderly man at church and say, “I love you.” But we can hand him a chocolate kiss and a little card with a funny picture that says, “Be My Valentine!” And what about taking a silly little card and a chocolate heart to a neighbor you’ve been meaning to visit but haven’t gotten around to?

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another.” So go ahead – tell someone you love them on Valentine's Day.