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by Staci Troilo

Valentine's DayI suppose everyone knows what Friday is… Valentine’s Day. In my family, we always made it a point to call it St. Valentine’s Day. February 14 is such a Hallmark Holiday that we did what little we could to preserve the intent behind its inception.

St. Valentine’s Day was not even commemorated in the church until 1969 because it is uncertain if there were one or two (some say perhaps even three) saints by the same name. All that was known for certain was that there was a Valentine who died on February 14 in the High Middle Ages in Rome on the Via Flaminia.

There are several accounts of Saint Valentines and works that led to their martyrdoms, but the most common (and most romantic) version is that of the Roman priest who was caught marrying Christian couples during the reign of Claudius II. He was sentenced to death for crimes against the state and was beaten with clubs and stones. When that didn’t kill him, he was beheaded (dates range from 269-273). Because he “died for love,” lovers everywhere celebrate romance on the day of his death, St. Valentine’s Day, February 14.

Valentine's DayThe church never really recognized St. Valentine’s Day as much of a holiday. My family didn’t have a special meal for it, and come on. We’re Italian. We have a special meal for everything. So it must not have been a huge deal. But my mom always baked a heart-shaped cake and we got little gifts. (Again. We’re Italian. We don’t pass up chances for parties. So it must have meant something.)

dogs valentinesNow that I have a family of my own, my husband and I are continuing the tradition. I don’t happen to have heart-shaped pans, so my kids don’t get the special cake that I got when I was young. But my husband grew up getting cream puffs. So my kids get some kind of treat. Sometimes it’s cream puffs. Sometimes I’m busy and it’s something a little easier. It’s the thought that counts. And they get little gifts. Because they are our Valentines.

My husband and I don’t go overboard on gifts for each other. We consider it a Hallmark Holiday and don’t think it’s worth the money. We think if we can’t show our love for each other every other day of the year, we shouldn’t be pressured by a greeting card company and the FTD man to do it on one particular day. And you know what? We do pretty well all 365 days, not just February 14.

Some people put great importance on that day. I hope they aren’t let down. Some people get quite depressed. I hope someone lifts their spirits. I hope I can be someone who can lift someone’s spirits that day. Every day.

I don’t know if there was one St. Valentine or two or three. Zero or ten. It doesn’t matter to me. I just want to take a lesson from the spirit of the man and spread some love.

Isn’t that what St. Valentine’s Day is all about, anyway?

No matter how you view the holiday (religious or secular, authentic or Hallmark), I hope you have a happy one.

What are your plans for Friday? Why don’t you share them with us here? You might give someone a good idea.