Authentic Event or Hallmark Holiday?

by Staci Troilo

Valentine's DayI suppose everyone knows what Friday is… Valentine’s Day. In my family, we always made it a point to call it St. Valentine’s Day. February 14 is such a Hallmark Holiday that we did what little we could to preserve the intent behind its inception.

St. Valentine’s Day was not even commemorated in the church until 1969 because it is uncertain if there were one or two (some say perhaps even three) saints by the same name. All that was known for certain was that there was a Valentine who died on February 14 in the High Middle Ages in Rome on the Via Flaminia.

There are several accounts of Saint Valentines and works that led to their martyrdoms, but the most common (and most romantic) version is that of the Roman priest who was caught marrying Christian couples during the reign of Claudius II. He was sentenced to death for crimes against the state and was beaten with clubs and stones. When that didn’t kill him, he was beheaded (dates range from 269-273). Because he “died for love,” lovers everywhere celebrate romance on the day of his death, St. Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Valentine's DayThe church never really recognized St. Valentine’s Day as much of a holiday. My family didn’t have a special meal for it, and come on. We’re Italian. We have a special meal for everything. So it must not have been a huge deal. But my mom always baked a heart-shaped cake and we got little gifts. (Again. We’re Italian. We don’t pass up chances for parties. So it must have meant something.)

dogs valentinesNow that I have a family of my own, my husband and I are continuing the tradition. I don’t happen to have heart-shaped pans, so my kids don’t get the special cake that I got when I was young. But my husband grew up getting cream puffs. So my kids get some kind of treat. Sometimes it’s cream puffs. Sometimes I’m busy and it’s something a little easier. It’s the thought that counts. And they get little gifts. Because they are our Valentines.

My husband and I don’t go overboard on gifts for each other. We consider it a Hallmark Holiday and don’t think it’s worth the money. We think if we can’t show our love for each other every other day of the year, we shouldn’t be pressured by a greeting card company and the FTD man to do it on one particular day. And you know what? We do pretty well all 365 days, not just February 14.

Some people put great importance on that day. I hope they aren’t let down. Some people get quite depressed. I hope someone lifts their spirits. I hope I can be someone who can lift someone’s spirits that day. Every day.

I don’t know if there was one St. Valentine or two or three. Zero or ten. It doesn’t matter to me. I just want to take a lesson from the spirit of the man and spread some love.

Isn’t that what St. Valentine’s Day is all about, anyway?

No matter how you view the holiday (religious or secular, authentic or Hallmark), I hope you have a happy one.

What are your plans for Friday? Why don’t you share them with us here? You might give someone a good idea.

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Writer. Editor. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Dog owner. Award-winning author and recipe creator. Conservative Catholic with an avid interest in the supernatural. Think all that doesn't go together? Then you have to get to know me better.

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8 Comments

  1. My husband calls it a Hallmark holiday so we don’t do much. I love the same story that you mentioned, and I try to keep that same idea in mind. It’s the same idea that we should show it the other 364 days of the year. Lovely post. Now I want cream puffs… 😉

    • You know what, Stephanie… We’ve been doing the low carb thing, and I was going to do a low carb chocolate mousse or a flourless chocolate cake. But now that you mention it, cream puffs do sound good! Enjoy your Valentine’s Day… and the other 364 as well.

  2. My wife and I see it as a Hallmark holiday as well. But we will celebrate it with a nice steak or seafood dinner (at home) and a bottle of red wine. Gifts will be minimal, if at all. Love with your spouse is something that should be celebrated daily! 🙂

  3. We also don’t celebrate St. Valentine’s Day . Like you, we don’t belive we need a day to celebrate love. When my children were little, we celebrated with dessert after a meal that I prepared (with love of course) and a very small gift. As my children got older, we took turns picking the St. Valentines Day dinner and dessert was pot luck. Sometimes home made, sometimes store bought. And the gift? Gas money. It’s the thought that counts. This year is no different. We will be having a home cooked family favorite.

    • Gas money is a great idea. Wish I had thought of that before I picked out my little something special for my son. I’ll keep that in mind for next year, though. 😉

      • I have several ideas that will work. Especially once our children our out on their own. Little things mean more to them than you think. As a writer, maybe something special and meaningful to them would be a story about them or written especially for them.

      • I’ve actually written stories for them before. I already bought the gifts for this year. I will be keeping the gas money in mind for the future, though.

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