Blogs » J.Q. Tomanek of Victoria » A valiant Valentine


This is just another day that was invented by chocolate producers, flower farmers, and Hallmark. It is just another celebration that was created by the faire market. If a man will not express his undying devotion, you better believe the market will remind you. Ok, first sentence is hogwash. The second I do find rather true!

The sweet taste and intoxicating aroma are the added value of the centuries old practice of poetic hymns on cards sent to the beloved. Although mainly romantic today, which is part of love, finding the what, who, and where of St. Valentine’s Day is as important as the how. The how is rather well known, send flowers, write on a card, serenade a song regarding “Ego te amo.” So I will take a look at the other three W’s.

What is Valentine as a word? The word has its origins in the Latin “valentia” which comes from the “valens, valere.” “Valentia” means “strength or capacity.” “Valere” means “to be strong.” What does love have to do with strength or power? Well, Huey Lewis and the News expressed that love has power. The power of love can make you crazy, mad, doesn’t need a credit card to ride trains. Although the singer labels it much like an emotion, it seems to be more than just an emotion. Looking at the word valiant, which has its roots in the same word as “Valentine,” expresses more than emotion and digs deeper than just feeling the warm and fuzzies. “Valiant” means “strength, courage, and worth.” We get sentences like “He fought valiantly.” The strong and brave connotation is more popular but is kind of only half. There is that “worth” part as well that remains part of the background. The English word that has this meaning is the word “value.” So to put “valiant” in the proper context, we get something like “to be heroic for a worthy person/thing/cause.” So “be my Valentine” has something to do with strength, courage, and worth.

Who was St. Valentine? As his title indicates, he was a saint and from the early Church. He was priest and probably a bishop. He was martyred for his Faith, so he remained strong and brave in the face of death. He was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14th, hence the feast day in the Latin Church.

Where did this practice of sending Valentine’s come from? This time of year was also known as the day birds find their mate and hence the time of year associated with the romance side of the day. Hear Chaucer (around late 1300s) in “Parlement of Foules” about this day “For this was on seynt Volantynys day; Whan euery bryd cometh there to chese his make.” So here is Chaucer showing the day is associated with finding love.

So what is the totality of this day? Perhaps it is desiring to be valiant for your beloved to the point of death and the gift of losing yourself as such will lead to you find that love. A friend of mine once told me that a grain of wheat must fall and die to bear fruit. In a sense it is in giving your total self that you will receive the beloved and in this mutual self-giving each will receive the other and understand the self more completely.

Have Happy St. Valentine's Day!