Sunday, February 15, 2004

Ode to Saint Valentine

Saint Valentine. I had often wondered who this person was and why we celebrated this day. What did he do for love that deserved a whole day of commemoration?

The story of Saint Valentine is a fairly simple story, more simple than I had ever imagined. It took place in Rome under the rule of the emperor Claudius. Claudius needed more men in his army, and he thought that the reason that the men were not volunteering was because they did not want to leave their wives and families. So he outlawed marriage. Saint Valentine was a minister, and he did not agree with this law so he continued to perform marriages. It was this that got him executed on February 14, 269 A.D.

The man for whom this day was named was never in love at all. He did not die for his love, he did not sacrifice greatly to express his love for another, he definitely did not buy candies and flowers for anyone. He died because he believed in love.

I do not celebrate Valentine's Day, whether I have someone to celebrate it with or not. I think it's ingenuine, insincere and forced. I feel that love should be spontaneous, and the essence of romance is found within that spontaneity. So how do I reconcile the fearless heroism of Saint Valentine with my feelings about his day?

I spent the night with girlfriends. Surrounded by laughter and support, chocolate and wine, giggles and hugs. The night was not without the discussion of loves - past, present, future and those that are undeniably somewhere in-between. So many people wallow on this day. They choose it as a day of mourning and of self-deprecation. A day to cry over their singleness and the reasons therein. There is nothing wrong with being single. There is something completely natural and comfortable about being independently on your own. I am proud to be single, and I am proud of my single friends. We are strong enough to be on our own. We find happiness in ourselves and in each other. We do not need to cling to something that is ingenuine, insincere or unromantic. I find something fearless and heroic about that.

It is not that I don't believe in love or marriage. It is that I believe in it so fiercely that I cannot tolerate anything less than true romance. Saint Valentine did not die so that teenagers could lose their virginities or so that Hallmark could make a few million dollars. Nor did he die so that those who are afraid to be alone could have an excuse to find someone to hold onto. He died for real, true, God-blessed love. And when that day comes, that truly will be something to celebrate. But until then, I'll celebrate myself. I'm having a lot of fun trying to figure me out.


template by