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Valentine's Day

Why did people begin sending Valentine's Day?


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February 02, 2009 9:32PM

How many of us know the name of Mrs. Esther Howland? Her name is probably not a household word among us. She is the person who is given credit for sending the very first valentine cards. Commercial valentine cards were introduced in the 1880's. Since then the valentine segment of the greeting card industry has become a huge cash cow for greeting card companies. The post office at Loveland, CO also, it is said, does a large business around February 14 each year. The story of St. Valentine is sketchy, at best. We know that his name comes from the Latin word, "valens", which means "worthy." Other than that, not much is certain. So here is what we "know" (sort of). Valentine lived and worked in Rome as a priest during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (known as Claudius the Cruel). He was arrested, we are told, when he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding Christians who were, at the time, being persecuted by Claudius and his supporters. When Valentine tried to convert the emperor, he was sentenced to death. He was, they say, beaten with clubs and stoned and beheaded, and then buried north of Rome on February 14, 269 (or 270, or 273). Legend tells us that before he was martyred he left a note for the jailer's daughter, who had become his friend, which was signed, "From your Valentine". Regardless of how much is true about St. Valentine and how much is legend; regardless of the commercialization of the day, we can be reminded by St. Valentine's day, of the primary importance of love in the Judaeo-Christian faith. And we can be reminded as well that being a loving person sometimes can be downright difficult, if not dangerous, because love sometimes calls us to stand up against the "powers that be" and take a stand.