Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Jews Love: Valentine's Day

A brief history, courtesy of The History Channel:

"One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today."

JT of DaBoys points out that the Catholic Church disavowed Valentine's day as a holiday in 1969. He uses this contention as proof that it is not a Christian holiday. I would argue the opposite: that it clearly was a Christian holiday, and therefore, no matter what it is considered now, it cannot be seperated from its Christian past. Ari Kinsberg of Ari's Blog doesn't celebrate the holiday, not because it's Christian, but because we have a holiday of romance, Tu b'Av.

I am not sure if Reverened Robbie of Today in Alternate History is a) an anti-semite, b) making things up whole cloth, or c) both, but his post on Valentine's day includes a "fact" that would be interesting if it were true. Basically that there was a proposed massacre of Jews by Christians which was only stopped when one woman claimed to have seen the saint. Precious Umdurman of Precious World records the same events, except that in her version 2,000 Jews were killed in 1349 (ostensibly for causing the plague), and there was no reprieve. Poison Pero of This Day in History has an account which agrees with that of Precious. Mmm, nothing gets me in the mood like a massacre.

And an interesting aside, Believer786, a convert to Islam posts about whether or not Muslims should celebrate Valentine's day. His answer is pretty clearly that they should not. But the reasoning makes for an interesting read.


JT said...

Thanks for the links. I guess you're right - our difference stems from the fact that I am looking at what the holiday is today, whereas you are looking at what it was. Though, if you want to go back a little farther you could say that this holiday, and others, have roots in pagan traditions, and that should be a reason for not celebrating. I guess I'd just prefer to focus on what V-day means to people today.

The link to the Islam convert also gave me another reason to celebrate the holiday. He says: "The purpose of Valentine’s Day in these times is to spread love between all people, believers and disbelievers alike. Undoubtedly it is haraam to love the kaafirs."

For me, spreading love between all people sounds like a pretty good idea. I think we should be doing more of that.

Anonymous said...

" clearly was a Christian holiday, and therefore, no matter what it is considered now, it cannot be separated from its Christian past."

Why not?

The Rooster

Jack's Shack said...

All people of good conscience hate this fake holiday. Feh, phooey and yuck.

Anniegetyour said...

JT- I am so a fan of spreading the love, but why use a Christian Saint's day, which is based in a Roman orgy-festival to do it?

I would argue that Valentine's day causes more stress, disappointment, and arguements than it does true love and romance.

TR- the reason why Jews shouldn't celebrate Valentine's day is because it is a holiday of another religion. Even if it is no longer observed as such, Jews who observe V-day are using the (now discarded) rituals of another religion. This is pretty clearly forbidden by Judaism.

Jack- I don't know that I'd go that far, but I am certainly not the biggest fan.

Reverend Robbie said...

Sorry if you took the post as anti-Semitic - it is in fact made up out of whole cloth. If you look at the sub-title of my web site you'll see that it's Important events in history that never occurred today. My site is a genre of science fiction called Alternate History, in which we take actual events and propose an alternative to them. I wanted to take the 1349 massacre and show how, if someone had actually stood up and been able to convince the Christian mob not to commit the horrific crime they were about to, that history might have taken a kinder, gentler route. Since this is Valentine's Day, I used a "vision" of the saint to effect the change. This is actually fairly plausible for the time period - Joan of Arc rallied an entire nation after claiming that God told her to do so.

Again, my apologies. I can understand how you might think that - one of the most popular alternate history themes is Nazi victories, and my site does reflect that. It doesn't mean we wish for it - most Nazi victory alternate histories are cautionary tales, such as Fatherland by Robert Harris.

Sorry for intruding, but I hate leaving the wrong impression if I can help it.