I don’t know about you, but I yearn for the day when we can reclaim our religious holidays.
Today is what used to be known as the Feast of St. Valentine. Yeah, Valentine wasn’t Cupid’s father or some guy who handed out hearts to everybody.
Valentine was a Roman priest who presided over sacramental marriages of military-age people, which was against the Emperor’s wishes. The Emperor wanted young soldiers to fight without marital ties. When Valentine was discovered, the Emperor had him martyred.
So, technically, if you give someone a Valentine card, marriage is what you’re talking about.
Somehow, we’ve allowed the Saint in St. Valentine’s Day to be scrubbed from our societal discourse. Heck, the only time you’ll read or hear “St. Valentine’s Day” in a public school is when it’s followed by the word “massacre.”
When do we get to reclaim our religious holidays?
Over the years, we’ve allowed the birth of Christ to be transformed from Christmas to “winter break.” Every government school and office is closed for “Thanksgiving” without ever mentioning to whom all this thanks is being given.
I’ll forever remember my conversation with a public school teacher who tried to convince me that Thanksgiving was when we remembered the Pilgrims (a religious people doubtlessly, but I didn’t want to interrupt her) thanking the Native Americans for helping them through the cold winter (an odd proclamation to make in November).
For decades, schoolchildren learn that Thanksgiving is when we give thanks while not mentioning whom we are supposed to be thanking.
The funny thing is these Christian observances are the only ones that have had their basis in religion scrubbed. No one secularizes the religious holidays of other faiths, I’ve noticed. Those observances are kept religious, and rightfully so.
For some reason, society can’t seem to let Christian holidays remain Christian.
There are non-religious holidays that have morphed from their meanings. We’ve allowed Independence Day, a deep celebration of what makes us uniquely American, to be innocuously called “July 4th.” And I doubt many September barbecues are celebrations of labor unions, which was how Labor Day was begun.
Perhaps we should commit ourselves to restoring the meanings of religious holidays and observances and resist the urge of government, schools and secular society to cloud them.
Happy St. Valentine’s Day.