February is considered by many in pop culture to be the month of love and romance because of the occurrence of Valentine’s Day in mid-February each year. The occasion has been marked since approximately 300 A.D., with the advent of commercially-produced Valentine cards coming along in the 1840’s per www.history.com . I intentionally delayed posting this article until well after the ‘holiday’ because my point of view has less to do with Valentine’s Day and more to do with ‘love’ itself. But, since it is February, before we proceed let’s get clear about the origins of Valentine’s Day.
According to www.history.com the occasion originates from both Christian (St. Valentine) and ancient Roman traditions (Lupercalia).
At least three different St. Valentines (Valentinus) who were martyred are recognized by the Catholic Church. One legend suggests that Valentine was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II by performing marriages for young lovers in secret. Why? Because Claudius II decided unmarried young men made better soldiers so he outlawed marriage for young men. Upon discovering Valentine’s defiance, Claudius ordered him put to death.
Another legend suggests that a priest named Valentine was imprisoned, and ultimately executed, for helping Christians escape Roman prisons, where they were harshly treated and tortured. During his imprisonment, he became enamored of a young girl who visited him regularly. Before his death, he may have delivered the first ‘Valentine’ in the form of a letter to the young girl which he signed “From your Valentine.” Of course, we all recognized this phrase as it is still in use today.
Regardless of the murky details of the Valentine legends, it remains clear that whoever he was, his appeal as “a sympathetic, heroic and – most importantly – romantic figure” is virtually universal. Thus, St. Valentine has become “one of the most popular saints in England and France.”
Another possible origin of the occasion is an attempt by the Catholic church to Christianize the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was traditionally celebrated at the ides of February (February 15th) as a “fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders, Romulus and Remus.” Pope Gelasius declared February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day to reinforce the ‘un-Christian’ nature of Lupercalia by replacing it with a Saint’s Day at the end of the 5th century. During the Middle Ages, the date was considered the beginning of the mating season for birds which continued to support the idea of romance and instigated the use of Valentine greetings throughout society. Written greetings, however, would not become commonplace until much later.
Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, France and Australia with celebrations becoming popular around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th century, a commonly accepted practice of friends and lovers exchanging small tokens of affection or handwritten notes was firmly embedded in all social classes. Thanks to improved printing technology and a desire for an easier way for people to express feelings in an era when such behavior was discouraged, printed Valentine cards came on the scene by 1900.
Hand-made valentines were probably exchanged in America in the 1700s. Sometime in the 1840’s, “Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America,” earning her the moniker of “the Mother of the Valentine.” Today, per the Greeting Card Association, about 1 billion valentines are sent each year.
OK, now that we’re all clear about the meaning of the day, i.e., it’s not a creation of Hallmark or any other greeting card/candy/flower/jewelry company. It has its roots in real events/people/history and has simply been capitalized on by all the different industries that help us celebrate our good fortune in finding love.
Let’s move on to another phenomenon related to ‘love’ that truly perplexes me and is the purpose for this post. I hear so many people speak about being ‘in love’ and ‘loving’ someone so much. Or, the phrase I heard again recently that led me to this article, “I love her/him, but I’m just not ‘in love with’ her/him anymore so I’m leaving her/him.” Again, before we proceed, let’s check out some definitions of the phenomenon of ‘love,’ in general, courtesy of www.dictionary.com/browse/love , the American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
What is Love all About?
‘Love’ is defined both as a noun and a verb. The definition is quite lengthy but can be summarized as the term applies to living beings (I eliminated references to inanimate objects, concepts, etc.) as follows:
As a noun: “a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person, a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, a term of endearment, sexual passion or desire;”
As a verb: “to have love or affection for, to have a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another, to need or require or benefit greatly from, to embrace, kiss and/or have sexual intercourse with;”
In verb phrases/idioms: “for love, for the love of, in love – infused with or feeling deep affection or passion, make love, no love lost.”
Based upon the information above, why in the world would anyone think there was a mutual exclusion between ‘love’ and ‘in love’, in the long run? When one loves someone else, there are stages in the development of the relationship. Certainly, falling ‘in love’ with the person is one stage of the relationship when the feelings may be more intense or urgent but, it is not a stage that is equipped to exist in full force throughout the entire life of the relationship. After all, we all need to earn a living, do chores and care for children/pets, which can get in the way of the lovey-dovey romantic stuff occasionally. Having said that, the feeling of being ‘in love’ doesn’t go away completely either. It tends to go into hiding for a while, only to reappear at random times to surprise and delight us. Relationships have an ebb and flow that supports the personal growth of the individuals involved as well as the growth of the relationship.
Sometimes, that growth leads to a deeper connection between the individuals and sometimes it does not – not meant as a downer, just a simple truth. Another simple truth: it is not required to be ‘in love’ 100% of the time for the relationship to have value and deserve to continue. Sometimes, people need to be adults and understand life is not a fairy tale where every day is about fireworks and glittery unicorns and hearts-and-flowers. That’s okay because, honestly, those are not the things that stimulate growth in a relationship.
Sometimes, life is hard and loving someone is holding their hand (or hair) when they’re sick or cleaning the ice off their windshield or doing the dishes without being asked or pulling together to care for a special-needs child or an aging relative. Life is not always a bouquet of flowers and a fancy dinner – sometimes it’s pulling weeds in the yard and a grilled cheese sandwich.
Love can make those ‘not so great days’ bearable indeed. Being ‘in love’ is a fleeting, momentary stage of the relationship that opens the door to the opportunity to ‘real love’ and stands aside to see what develops. Hopefully, what develops is a real love that lasts a lifetime, endures the tragedies and challenges of life to become the foundation of a life worth living well.
So, if you start thinking about throwing away a loving relationship because you no longer feel all tingly and thrilled about every moment you spend with that person you love, – think again. Maybe the answer is not ending the relationship but, maybe the answer is re-thinking the mechanics and/or structure of the relationship. Maybe it’s time for:
• One or both parties to the relationship to have more space / time to themselves;
• More time spent together;
• Professional couples counselling;
• A romantic get-a-way with the kids/pets;
• A maid/gardener/nanny/fill-in-the-blank;
• New hobbies/activities separately and/or together;
• Separate but committed living arrangements (this is not a time-out with dating other people allowed – this is about personal space only).
Every relationship is unique; therefore, the needs of every relationship is unique. Sit down, think it out, write it out, cry it out, talk it out, WORK IT OUT!!!
Thanks for taking the time to read this post today ❤ ❤ ❤ Please feel free to share it ❤ ❤ ❤
History of Valentine’s Day. Author,History.com Staff. Website Name History.com Year Published 2009. Title: History of Valentine’s Day. URL http://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day Access Date: February 23, 2017. Publisher A+E Networks.
American Psychological Association (APA):
love. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved February 23, 2017 from Dictionary.com website http://www.dictionary.com/browse/love
Chicago Manual Style (CMS): love. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/love (accessed: February 23, 2017).
Modern Language Association (MLA):
“love”. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 23 Feb. 2017. .
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE):
Dictionary.com “love,” in Dictionary.com Unabridged. Source location: Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/love. Available: http://www.dictionary.com/. Accessed: February 23, 2017.