I stand by my earlier statement: If Valentine’s Day is “celebrated” out of obligation or the want for reciprocation, it’s fucking stupid.
But we could make it special, you know? We could repurpose it and remediate it. We could take the crappy Hallmark holiday known for dead flowers, cheap chocolates, and chain store lingerie and turn it into something worth celebrating.
We could upcycle Valentine’s Day.
Upcycling is when you take old, worthless stuff and turn it into something new and useful. Valentine’s Day is chock full of useless, old stuff. Cheap cards, terrible candy, and obligated sentiments are useless. The Roman mythology that started the whole thing is pretty old… but it’s not entirely useless.
Let’s look at what we’ve got to work with, shall we?
According to Roman Catholic mythos, some guy named Valentinus got on Emperor Claudius’ shit list for a couple of reasons.
Claudius didn’t allow some people (soldiers, Christians, etc.) to get married, but Valentinus recognized and honored their love and married them anyway. Essentially, Valentinus married people illegally, without the permission of the government or the church (there was no separation of church and state, so they were basically the same power structure).
Valentinus also “ministered” to Christians who were persecuted during the Roman Empire. In other words, Valentinus showed kindness to people who were considered second class citizens.
For these “crimes,” Claudius had Valentinus jailed and executed. Before his death, Valentinus wrote a farewell letter to a woman and signed it “from your Valentine.”
Of course, this is all mythos. According to Roman Catholic “martyrology,” there are were other “Saint Valentines,” eight of them, all known as “outstanding lovers of God and people, able to hear and to support anyone who is in love.”
So here’s what we can say about Saint Valentine:
- he performed marriages without the establishment’s consent,
- he was kind to people who faced discrimination and unimaginable mistreatment, and
- he supported people in love
Unfortunately, there’s still a need these things today. Our LGBT friends, family members, and fellow citizens are discriminated against and treated like second class citizens. Their love and their commitments to their partners aren’t recognized. They aren’t granted equal treatment and can’t get married, and as a result, they’re denied basic human rights (and a host of benefits reserved for heterosexual married couples).
We’re lucky to have some Saint Valentines in our modern day — those who recognize and honor love, those who perform marriages that aren’t yet legally recognized, those who support marriage equality, and those who fight for basic human rights for everyone, regardless of who they love or how they love.
We’re lucky they’re here, but we could use more. We need more Saint Valentines among us.
 “Valentine’s Day,” Wikipedia.
 “Saint Valentine,” Wikipedia.
 “Saint Valentine of Terni Marrying Sabino and Serapia” from The Virtual Museum.
 “The Men in Black at Saint Patrick Abbey,” EnGAYgedweddings.com.
 from “The Private Life of the Romans,” Forum Romanum.
 from “Field Poll: Californians favor gay marriage,” The Orange County Register.
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