I've never really sympathized with those who choose to view Valentine's Day negatively, using it to mope around and mourn their single-ness... Valentine's Day is so much more than that! I'll get into the story behind the day itself later, but even if you just take it as "a day of love," there is no limit to all the ways you can show and celebrate love! As a child, my mom instilled this in us as we made Valentines for our grandparents, cousins, aunts, neighbors, and pastors. We tried (I still do) to point everyone to God's amazing love towards us, in daily providence, and especially in His sending of Jesus to live & die for His bride... talk about Love! Everyone is-- especially believers-- greatly loved. You can all celebrate that! And there are dozens of people around you whom you can love, some who are probably aching for love.
As for the original Valentine, that is a wonderful story of faith. There are several accounts (some say up to 3 different Valentines-- each a martyr-- but no one can tell which of the first 2 Valentines did what), but the gist seems to be: during the oppressive reign of Emperor Claudius, edicts were made not only forbidding marriages among soldiers, but also forbidding blasphemy against the Roman panoply of gods, including the Emperor himself. Valentine was a priest, who was willing to live according to God's Word despite its opposition to both human laws. He gladly performed secret marriages for soldiers, upholding the sanctity and goodness of marriage (this was before celibacy was touted as better than marriage). And he continued to preach Christ Crucified as the One True God. Both got him jailed. Even in jail, he continued to minister, praying for the healing of his jailer's blind daughter. God heard his prayers, and the girl was healed. Following this miracle, as well as Valentine's continued preaching, the jailer, his family, and 46 others all came to Christ and were baptized-- what a picture that must have been! A baptism in a jail cell!! When Valentine stood trial before Claudius, he honestly & boldly proclaimed the Love of the True God, surprising the emperor favorably. Eventually, he had Valentine beaten, stoned, and decapitated anyway. One of the last letters he wrote was to his jailer's daughter, which he signed, "Your Valentine."
I told this story to my preschoolers, to try and help them appreciate what Valentine's Day is all about-- proclaiming the Love of Christ in the Gospel, and showing generous, fearless love to our neighbors. They don't really get the whole sanctity of marriage thing yet. :) What I also tried to impress on them was that Valentine's death was not the unhappy end to a brave story. "Do you think Valentine was sad to die?" They nod their heads. "Well, he was probably sad to leave his friends, but he was very happy to be with Jesus! He probably said, "Yes! Now I can be with the One Who Loves me!!!"
Read this or this for more if you'd like. I really enjoyed this book, which a mom read in our class last year. It's published by Voice of the Martyrs.
Off to watch (maybe) Stardust with my Valentine. :) It was a gift he got on his treasure hunt.