Should Christians be Celebrating Valentine’s Day?
Why is there Controversy over Valentine’s Day?
Celebrating Valentine’s Day
What is the history of Valentine’s Day and should Christians be celebrating Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day is another holiday (derived from Holy day) filled with pagan symbolism, Greek and Roman gods, and historical European traditions. Does it even belong on the calendar of a scripture believing Christian?
The history of Valentine’s Day is very unclear. As with most of our Christian holidays, it has been mixed with pagan symbols. Usually this happened in an attempt to replace the celebrations to the formerly worshiped gods with a celebration of our God.
Most of these muddled celebrations began when the Roman emperors became Christians and legalized Christianity. In their attempts to popularize the religion, they did not ban previous holidays and ways of celebrating but tried to Christianize them. They put clothes on the celebrants, tried to remove the open sexuality and the Popes looked for a martyr or Saint to name the holiday after. It was Pope Gelasius who named the original Roman Festival of Fertility, Lupercalia, after St. Valentine.
During this time in history, the gentiles took over Christianity and wanted to separate themselves from Judaism. It seems to have resulted in many European pagan rituals and symbols finding their way into Christian celebrations while the meaning of the Jewish feasts and holidays was mostly ignored.
Deuteronomy 12: 29-32 is a stern warning about worshiping God in the same evil ways of the nations the Israelites replaced as they entered the promised land. I see nothing of hearts and cupids, trees and bells, eggs and rabbits in my Bible. However, the symbolism in the Jewish feasts is all about our Christian faith in the redeeming power of God’s one and only Son and His return.
What does this mean to us as Christians?
Should we ban the celebration of these holidays? Are we expected to remove any symbolism with pagan roots? Should we be celebrating the Jewish feasts as Christ did?
Hard questions for scripture based Christians. Our holidays have been mingled with the pagan symbols for so long we have forgotten their origins. After all, we are celebrating Christ’s birth, His Resurrection, All Hallowed’s Eve. What could possibly be wrong with celebrating love on Valentine’s Day?
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I am looking to the Lord for guidance. I do have a Christmas tree and evergreens in my home at Christmas. My nativity is central and I prefer an angel or star as my tree topper. We have been taking some of the commercialization out of our celebrations and focusing on the Birthday of our King.
We spend Easter at our church camp which we call Feast. We are attempting to celebrate Jesus as the final Passover Lamb and to forgo the pagan celebration of the arrival of spring. I’m not sure everyone in the church understands Feast.
Are There Clues in the Scriptures?
God assigned the seven Feasts to be celebrated by the Israelites in Leviticus 23:4. They are reminders of what He did for them in Egypt and in the desert. They also prophesy and point the way to the final sacrifice of Jesus and finally to prophesy the second coming of Christ. Jesus not only observed these Feasts of God but fulfilled every detail of the first four Feasts.
We read in 2 Chronicles 7 and 8 that God was pleased with the Temple in Jerusalem built by Solomon and inhabited it. Over the years, the sacrifices and celebrations became tainted and God hated them. The sacrifices of the Israelites were no longer to glorify God and rules were being broken. We see this over and over in the Old Testament.
After repenting and returning to worship God as He laid out to Moses, God would forgive the Israelites, and all would be well. Soon the influence of other nations and religions would again taint their worship and bring down God’s wrath.
We can find examples in Isaiah1:14, Lamentations 1:4, Amos 8:10, and Malachi 2:3.
In the New Testament, Jesus, Himself, chides the Pharisees and teachers of the Law for wanting the most important seats at the Feasts. Again, we find observance of the Feasts but the spirit of worship has been tainted with pride.
I am so glad that we are under the new Law of the Spirit. In 2 Colossians 2: 16 and 17, we read that we are not to let anyone make rules for us about eating or drinking or about religious feasts, a New Moon Festival, or a Sabbath day. These things were like a shadow of what was to come. I am so thankful to be living now between the fulfilled feasts of Jesus coming and the last feasts foreshadowing the second coming.
We are not burdened with the weight of observing every detail of the Feasts of God although we can learn a lot about our God through them. We are commissioned to gather in fellowship with other believers and to worship the Lord our God and serve only Him.
Should We Be Celebrating Valentine’s Day and Other Holidays?
I believe it all hinges on how and why you are celebrating. I think it is wonderful to celebrate our love for each other and to set apart a time to make it special. We have to be careful not to be caught up in symbolism that we do not understand. God wants to be the only god in our lives and does not want to be replaced by any idol of the heart. Even our spouses should hold second place to God in our hearts.
Here is another entire site dedicated to all things Valentine. www.stvalentinesday.org/history–of-st-valentines-day.html
Take a close look at where the traditions originated. You’ll find out why lace is part of our celebration of love and what wearing your heart on your sleeve means. Some of our traditions are not pagan at all. It is a very complete site about the holiday celebrations around the world. It includes the controversy in India where it is thought the holiday leads to rape and there is an effort to ban it.
As the celebration of Valentine’s Day gains popularity in more countries around the world, many Christians are calling for a complete ban on celebrating Valentine’s Day. Other Christians are celebrating love not lust and trying to spread Christian love and celebrating the healthy romance between couples. You can find Christianized valentines with scriptures about love here http://timewarpwife.com/printable-valentine-cards-with-bible-verses
How Commercial is Celebrating Valentine’s Day?
- Valentine’s Day is celebrated on February 14. Lupercalia was observed February 13th to the 15th.
- Esther Howland of Worcester, Mass., published the first American valentine in 1849.
- Hallmark first offered Valentine’s Day cards in 1913 and began producing them in 1916.
- In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark and Italy and is spreading around the world.
As musicians, my husband and I are often asked to be a part of celebrations. It is not hard to find love songs for celebrating Valentine’s Day. One year we were asked to do a Valentine’s Day program for a gospel group. We thought we would celebrate God’s love and our love for Him. There were many songs about God’s love for us but woefully few love songs to God. Here is one we found. The last line of the chorus is “This is our song of love” and it is a love song to God.
I believe we should know the truth about what we are doing and not just follow the crowd. We must guard our hearts and our minds and be sure we are not being deceived. We must be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit. Can we celebrate the people we love without offending God? I’m sure we can. After all, we are taught in 1 Corinthians 13:13 these three things continue forever: faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.
I will be preparing a romantic dinner for two and we’ll snuggle up to a romantic movie. Other years we have been performing and not able to spend alone time together. We eat by candlelight most nights in the winter and this will not be the only romantic dinner of the year. I have also chosen to check all my valentine decorations and found a frame with cupid. It is gone.
Are you going to look into the history and traditions of each holiday more closely? Will you take more care in how you’ll be celebrating Valentine’s Day? Will you stop celebrating Valentine’s Day and celebrate your love for the people in your life every day? Does knowing the roots of the holiday and what scripture says about foreign gods change your thinking? Leave a comment
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