The True Meaning of Valentine's Day
St. Valentine was actually four different people, all of whom were canonized by the Catholic Church due to their various good works. One of the first of the St. Valentines was executed as a martyr for helping Christians wed. At the time of his good deeds (sometime around A.D. 496), marriage was sometimes controlled by the state, so it was considered a crime for some to wed. He helped people get married at the risk of his own life, as well as performing other good deeds.
The other three Valentine’s also suffered a similar fate, due to their insistence of helping people who wanted to be married or wanted to live their lives in their own way that was not endorsed by the Roman government.
Knowing the sacrifice these men made to help others be married shows their compassion for human beings and the lengths they were willing to go to, in the name of love. Other saints committed similar acts of heroism over the years, as have others, which contributed to the freedoms people have today regarding love and relationships. There were other factors which influenced this, but it helps to understand the traditions of the early days.
The Influence of St. Valentine
Have a discussion this Valentine’s Day about the meaning of Valentine’s Day and how it influences our society today. It is also interesting to note that the holiday that began so long ago still remains such a central focus of our society today. Hundreds of thousands of cards, boxes of candy, and gifts will be purchased this year, in celebration of this age old holiday. This article may be interesting for students to discuss the origins of specific Valentine's Day traditions.
Love is Not Just About Romance
Another important point to bring out with kids is the fact that valentines are not just about romance. Love comes in many forms and contexts and it is okay to show love and appreciation for others too. People who have helped us, teachers, coaches, aunts, cousins, and friends, are all people who deserve to be recognized this Valentine’s Day.
Are Online Valentine's as Meaningful?
A lot of talk goes around these days regarding online Valentine’s cards and messages. Kids can send digital photo albums to friends, heart stickers, and more on Facebook and other social media. They should just be told to use these sparingly and to consider what and to whom they are communicating. It is also a good idea for them to know the person in the real world, as well as online, before they send something that is related to Valentine’s Day.
Fun Valentine's Day Ideas
Here are a few unique ways kids can celebrate Valentine's Day.
1. Do a good deed for a complete stranger.This should only be done with permission and supervision of a parent or guardian. Some ideas might be to hold the door open for people, offer to carry an elderly lady’s groceries to her car, walk someone’s dog, or shovel a neighbor's sidewalk after a snowstorm. You would be surprised what an impact this can make on someone’s life and it will help teach kids the meaning of love and caring for others.
2. Take a picture of your family that kids can share with friends or classmates. Using Photoshop, you can add a heart or red background to enhance the image before sharing. Then post on social media or send via email to friends.
3. Have kids write a song or poem for a special friend. This is a good activity to do any time of year. But during Valentine’s, they could compose a song and record it using podcasting equipment on the computer or a digital tape recorder, then upload it to a friends Facebook page or send via email. Alternately, they could burn a cd and give it the person in the real world.
4. Write a book about a special friend who means a lot. This could also be done for grandmothers, uncles, cousins, or teachers who influenced them. Let them choose who they would like to make the book about and have them include memories from their childhood, then dress it up in heart themes.
5. Have kids make a list of all of the people they consider their Valentines. This should include everyone in their family, extended family, friends, and people who have made a difference in their lives. Out beside the names, they can write one-liners as to how they have helped them and why they appreciate them so much. This will serve to help them think about what they have to be thankful for, and the special people in their lives that make life special.
The history of Valentine’s Day goes back several centuries, but we still enjoy this special holiday today. However we celebrate it, it should include everyone we care about, and kids should learn that any day is a good day to say how much we appreciate those who help make life grand.