St. Valentine’s Day more than a Hallmark holiday for Catholics

BY MELISSA SOLANO

The most romantic holiday of the year is coming around once more. While most perceive it as simply a commercialized holiday, there is more to the reason for the holiday, especially for Catholics.

Historically, St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the Middle Ages. During this time, Emperor Claudius III believed single men made better soldiers, compared to those married with families. In order to ensure this, the emperor decreed that marriage was to be outlawed for all young men. Valentine knew the injustice of the act, and proceeded to perform hundreds of secret marriage ceremonies until his execution by Claudius III.

At the end of the 5th century, Pope Gelasius declared the 14th of February to be St. Valentine’s Day, since he was said to have been killed around this time. The idea that Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance also arose from the idea that Feb. 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season in France and England.

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. Valentine’s Day has become a booming commercial success, particularly in the United States. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25 percent of all cards sent each year are “Valentines.” Charles, Duke of Orleans, sent one of the earliest Valentines in 1415 AD to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London. The card is now preserved in the British Museum.

To counteract Valentine’s Day, the Singles Awareness Day, or SAD, has begun to stir up a tradition of its own. The goal of SAD is to let singles have celebrations, get-togethers, and to exchange gifts with their single friends. The awareness day was established by single people who were tired of feeling left out on Valentine’s Day. Support of the day is growing every year.

Regardless of whether or not students have a significant other, they have the ability to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with many different things going on around campus. Some households are even holding holiday-related fundraisers, such as Illuminata Pace’s handmade Valentines. Sodexo hosted “A Valentine’s Affair” night in the Gentile Gallery on Monday for couples and groups, which included catered meals, dancing and a photo booth.

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