Valentine’s Day has some disturbing history, but it has always revolved around love

Happy Valentine’s Day, ya’ll! I hope you are feeling loved and appreciated today.

For me, Valentine’s Day most importantly marks the beginning of the end of winter. I have a hard time being cooped up in the house for very long, and while February is usually the coldest month, I try to keep in mind we are just a few short weeks from spring.

However, I can remember some years when March proved to have worse winter-like weather. I’m thinking positive and have hopes this year will be different.

I wanted to do a bit of research on the origins of Valentine’s Day, so I looked it up. I found somewhat disturbing information, such as the early practices of women lining up to be beaten by the skins of animals for fertility. Drunken parties by the Romans, and even two Saints named Valentine who several years apart, were both executed on February 14.

The Catholic Church honored the men by establishing the holiday in the 3rd Century, and in the 5th Century Pope Gelasius combined the Catholic and the pagan celebration to tone down the heathen party.

Rhonda Sexton

The Christians were said to have “put clothes back on the holiday,” but it still revolved around love and fertility.

The works of Shakespeare and Chaucer in Europe and Great Britain romanticized the notion and it grew sweeter. People began making handmade paper cards to give to their loved ones.

In the new world, in 1913 right here in Missouri, the day that we are more familiar with took off.

The Hallmark Company in Kansas City, in the midst of the industrial revolution, was the first to mass-produce valentine cards. February has never been the same.

I can remember going through old valentine cards my grandmother had collected through her life. They were very elaborate and detailed, almost like lace and had raised artwork.

Over the years the cards have become more commercialized and the gifts now included flowers, especially roses and chocolates. The holiday has grown to include children and toy marketers have gotten into the game, as stuffed animals have become a common gift.

Pet owners also have plenty of special treats to choose from to spoil their special buddies.

I think it’s all great. It’s good to have a day to especially say “I love you” to your friends and family.

We are often so caught up in ourselves and work that it’s good to stop and appreciate those around us that make life a little sweeter.

It’s a day to celebrate love, and that doesn’t have to mean romantic love. It should include friends and coworkers because these are the people we spend a great deal of time with.

This is my first year as a grandma and I’m enjoying spoiling a sweet six-month-old with lots of kisses!

But when it’s all said and done, there is no greater love than a friend who was willing to lay down His life for us. Jesus didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day like we do, but He is definitely worthy to be remembered today.

He proved His love for His friends always and often through the pages of the New Testament. He carefully corrected and taught His disciples, He healed strangers of their physical afflictions and He even raised His friend Lazarus from the dead.

He performed His first miracle at a wedding. I see Him as an incurable romantic at heart who filled the empty glasses with wine to prevent the excitement of that special event from becoming flat.

Jesus sees all acts of love as an extension of Himself because He was, and is, the ultimate love.

There is no holiday that we can’t turn back around to make it about Jesus, and to me that’s just another confirmation that following Him is the only way to make it through this journey we call life.

Jesus is the lover of our souls, even if we are friendless. He is with us always and sends down simple joys of life that can bless us every day.

I hope you are surrounded by love, friendship and peace this Valentine’s Day and that you can clearly feel the love of Christ in the warmth of the sun shining on your face, the joyful singing of the birds whirling about the trees, and the smiles of strangers along your path.

(Rhonda Sexton is an author and inspirational speaker. She lives in Neosho with her husband and children. She can be reached at or 417-389-1222.)

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