Legend has it that St.Valentine was a priest in Roman times who secretly performed marriages for soldiers and their lovers against the orders of the cruel Emperor Claudius. Met with his imprisonment, Valentine fell in love with the jail-guard’s daughter and wrote letters signed ‘Love from your Valentine’ before his beheading on February the 14th.
In modern society, Valentine’s day is celebrated as an expression of ‘romantic love’ and feelings through an exchange of cards and gifts such as flowers and chocolates. In the UK alone just under half of the population spend money on their valentines.
For the younger generation, Valentine’s Day is often introduced at an early age, with many primary schools allowing children to create cards and crafts to give to their valentine providing an opportunity to show their creativity. In younger years this is a novelty to children as they hand out gifts and cards to family members teaching the lesson of appreciation.
Looking past the sweetness of a written letter or a paper made rose, it enforces the mentality of the children believing that love is about giving physical gifts to show your appreciation.
In secondary school, Valentine’s Day is often left in the hands of the teens, to decide if they wish to participate and who they wish to be send their gift to. It can become somewhat of a popularity contest between friends with some feeling loved and some feeling unappreciated and heartbroken. It is at this age that teenagers begin to relate Valentine’s Day to an expression of romantic notion, as per the legend.
The most valuable lesson that has been lost along the way, is that the expression of love was not St.Valentine wedding the couples nor giving the gift of the letter, it was giving the intangible gift of kindness and his ability to care for friends and those that he did not know. This was his expression of love.
We can help our children learn these values with simple methods suggesting they do a good deed such as giving a compliment to a classmate, teacher, or family member or help someone, such as an elderly lady cross the street or simply to hold open the door for someone. And when it does come to romantic love, get your children to express this in more than gifts, but words too!
This will help move away from the idea of Valentine’s Day being a commercialised event and give your children a chance to show appreciation and kindness to all those who surround them.
What are your memories of Valentine’s Day and what have you passed on to your children? We would love to hear your stories!