“It isn’t enough to love; we must prove it,” St. Therese of Lisieux
Today’s the day; the day men live in fear and women live in hope. Men worry they will forget it’s Valentine’s Day all together or not give her the “perfect” gift, women hope they not only remember, but remember in a big way. Women, the nurturers that we are, also love to give and every February 14 is the perfect excuse to go all out. But why does Valentine’s Day even exist, other than to make Hallmark, Godiva, and FTD happy?
It all goes back to a man whose name was actually Valentine. Valentine was a priest in the third century and was arrested by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for being a Christian. Valentine would not denounce his Christianity so he was thrown in jail. While in prison he fell in love with the jailer’s blind daughter Julia, who would bring him flowers and notes from the village children. Valentine would reply to these notes with letters of his own, which he would sign “From Your Valentine.” He was killed on February 14, 269 but his legend of love and kindness lives on.
Then there’s Cupid, that somewhat creepy little diapered baby with a bow and arrow. According to Roman mythology, Cupid was the son of Venus, the goddess of love. Interestingly enough, the Latin word “cupido” means desire.
And what’s up with X’s and O’s? “Hugs and kisses,” or xoxo, is a term used for expressing love, affection or good friendship at the end of a written letter (or text or email or tweet) and dates back to the Middle Ages, when a Christian cross was drawn on documents to mean sincerity, faith, and honesty. A kiss was then placed on the cross by the signer as a display of their sworn oath. Since many commoners couldn’t read or write, an ‘X’ was used as their signature and a kiss was then placed upon it to show their sincerity. The “O,” on the other hand, is of North American descent and no one really seems to know how it started. Perhaps it represents a kiss-shaped mouth or open, huggable arms.
Finally, why do we wear our wedding rings on our left “ring” finger? Because that finger is the only one that has a vein that connects to the heart. How heart-warming is that?!
So what exactly is love? Is it the tragic attraction Romeo had for Juliet? Is it the devotion one has for their children? Love, we discover, is not only many a splendored thing, but many things.
The word love can be defined either as a noun, “an intense feeling of deep affection,” or as a verb, “a deep romantic or sexual attachment to someone.” But can’t you love some thing too? I love my husband, my daughter and my family and friends, but I also love gummy fish, lighthouses, shoes, cheese, wine, and dogs. To me, love is a total selflessness and devotion to someone or something; a passion, a commitment. You often adore something or someone you love, but in a healthy way. You would do anything for that person and you often put their needs and wants before your own. Love grows and changes though. The love of a recently married couple is different from that of one that’s been married for many years. Your love for your mom and dad is different than your love for your close and dear friends. But, it’s all love. It’s quite different than lust, however, but it’s still a very powerful feeling and is something we all earn for and crave.
According to Philosopher and Writer Julian Baggini, “love is not one thing. Love for parents, partners, children, country, neighbor, God and so on all have different qualities. Each has its variants – blind, one-sided, tragic, steadfast, fickle, reciprocated, misguided, and unconditional. At its best, however, all love is a kind a passionate commitment that we nurture and develop, even though it usually arrives in our lives unbidden. That’s why it is more than just a powerful feeling. Without the commitment, it is mere infatuation. Without the passion, it is mere dedication. Without nurturing, even the best can wither and die.”
Nurture those you love today and every day and remember, love is patient, love is kind. I love it!
Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you!