Around about this time every year, I seem to find myself wandering through the shops with my children and being asked the same questions. What is Valentine’s day for, mum? Why is it such a big deal? Isn’t it all a bit silly?
Slow down there, tiger. One question at a time.
As much as it pains me to drag my attention away from my finely-honed power-shopping technique (which usually means missing something on the list), each year I remind myself of the opportunity it gives me to help my children understand the principle of living honourably, and standing up for our convictions in the face of adversity.
If you didn’t know, that’s where this whole Valentine’s Day palaver started many years ago.
Quick History Lesson – St Valentine Honestly, the facts surrounding the history of St Valentine are a little murky. However, one thing that many historians seem to agree on is that the Valentine priest at the centre of this legend lived during the third century in Rome during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (I call him Cruel Claude).
Charming man that he was, Cruel Claude outlawed marriage for his young soldiers because he had discovered that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Shocker, right?
Well, Fr Valentine thought so too and he continued to marry young soldiers to their lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, he was sentenced to a three-part execution of beating, stoning, and finally decapitation.
How is this relevant to our kids? When my kids ask why is Valentine’s Day such a big deal? I tell them about St Valentine. We talk about St Valentine being the hero because he carried on with his work and uniting couples in marriage, fully aware of what the consequences of his treason would be. He held to his convictions and continued to do what was right, even in the face of an extraordinarily gruesome death. He was a man who lived with honour.
In a world where incomprehensible injustices are committed every day, one of the greatest desires I have for myself (let alone my children) is that we would stand firm in our convictions in the face of injustice. We need heroes and role-models like St Valentine to remind us that we are capable of such acts.
Whether you choose to participate in Valentine’s Day festivities or not, (and honouring our loved ones is extremely important!), don’t miss the potential here to teach your kids something deeper. After all, what is love without honour?