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Saint Valentine's Day
Should Biblical Christians Observe It?

by Ken Swiger

"What the world needs now, is love, sweet love…" So go the words to a popular song of many years ago. Surely there is a great focus on love each year on Saint Valentine's Day. But where do we get the idea that we should focus on love at his particular time of the year? Who was this Valentine, and why do millions commemorate his life and death each year? Is the celebration on February 14 th really about a martyred "saint"? If not, what does it all mean? What is with the little naked baby with the arrows? Is observing this celebration something, which pleases our Heavenly Father?

No sooner do the retail stores begin to clear the Christmas paraphernalia from the shelves, than you see them replaced with the hearts and flowers and other signs of Saint Valentines Day. In the weeks leading up to February 14 th, retailers sell a mountain of candy and what appears to be forests of paper Valentine cards. It is one of the biggest seasons for retail sales during the year.

This season holds the interest of individuals of all ages. School children regularly decorate their classrooms with paper hearts and lace in preparation for their big day. Husbands and wives look for cards, which say just the right words. Young girls daydream about special young men giving them flowers and candy or maybe jewelry in an expression of their affection on this particular day. The elderly may look back fondly on the romance of Valentine's Days past.

Millions of people around the world spend billions of dollars and much time and energy preparing for the celebration of Saint Valentine's Day. From what source did all this tradition come? Is it all just innocent fun? Should Biblical Christians participate in Valentine's Day? [If you are unaware of the distinction between being a Biblical Christian and a Traditional Christian, please check out our Selah article Biblical or Traditional . . . What Kind of Christian Are You?]

Origins of St. Valentine's Day

You would expect that a celebration as widespread as St. Valentine's Day would be well documented as to its origins, wouldn't you? Yet even the person for whom the day is named is not clearly a single, real person. The Catholic Church records three different saints named Valentine, two of who were martyred and buried in the vicinity of Rome and one who was martyred in Africa. Looking at the Catholic Encyclopedia Internet article on St. Valentine we read: "At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyologies under the date 14 February." [We will make mention of some of the popular legends about the origin of Valentine's Day later in this article.]

Despite the lack of documentation about these martyrs, and the fact that the Catholic Church does not even attempt to pinpoint one of them as the Saint venerated on this date, Pope Gelasius I proclaimed February 14 th as a day to commemorate the single Saint Valentine. Why the confusion? Why would the Catholic Church venerate a person who was not necessarily authentic?

Winning the Barbarians (Victory by Surrender)

The Catholic Church as the religious arm of the Roman Empire subjugated many deeply superstitious and religious nations. When this happened, they had to deal with the religious practices and belief systems of the conquered peoples. Following the lead of the Empirical Roman government (who had long succeeded at including and adopting the cultures and religions of the conquered into their own society) the church began to appease the barbarians by allowing them to keep their religious practices, and even their gods under new "Christian" names. The Encyclopedia Britannica, under the subject heading "Christianity" explains: "The continuity of pre-Christian antiquity and Christian society is nowhere more apparent than in popular religious practices." They are saying it is obvious the "Christian" religious practices came from their pagan predecessors. This is a reference to the veneration of `saints'. The article continues: "The pagans were normally devoted to local shrines of particular gods. The church tried to meet this psychological need by establishing shrines of martyrs." In other words, it is clear that the Catholic Church `Christianized' pagan celebrations in order to embrace the persons who practiced those rites.

Britannica continues: "Pagan critics said that the old gods, true givers of success and miracles, were offended by neglect." [Because the individuals who had previously worshipped them had become 'Christians'.] "To meet such criticisms, the church found it necessary to provide similar assurances of success, miraculous cures and patron saints." And don't think this was an isolated occurrence among an obscure fringe group of Catholics. Adaptation and renaming of pagan gods and celebrations was common at all levels of Roman religious governance, from the lowly priest to the Emperor and the Pope themselves. Britannica states: "…even highly educated figures such as Constantine and Pope Gregory I (died 604 AD) were sympathetic to this popular movement. It became a means of winning barbarian tribesmen." In effect, the Catholic Church won the barbarians to 'Christianity' by surrendering Christianity to the barbarian's gods and their worship.

A New Branch of Literature is Born!

Adapting and renaming pagan gods and celebrations was a successful practice as it swelled Church roles and garnered support for the papal throne. It also gave rise to a new field of study in literature. Continuing under the article on Christianity, the Encyclopedia Britannica explains: "The veneration of saints led to the production of a specific category of literature know as HAGIOGRAPHY. If available, authentic tradition would be used; but, if there was none, the writers felt quite free to create a biography from conventional materials and elements of folklore." [EMPHASIS MINE] Thus it was that the myths and legends of pagan gods and heroes became entwined with the religious practices of those who professed to follow Jesus Christ. With this understanding of the acceptable practice of falsifying biographical information for so-called saints, it is easy to see how there could be conflicting legends and stories about the man or men for whom Saint Valentine's day is named.

Later, Pope Paul VI attempted to down-play the significance of the veneration of saints "…by deleting some unhistorical, ostensibly mythological figures from the calendar of saints." Britannica explains however, that the great difficulty involved in such an effort remains due to the fact that: "…mythological features from pre-Christian hero myths had often been inter-mixed, even in the lives of demonstrably historical saints."

Saint Worship…Nothing New

Many assume that adoration and veneration of saints is a relatively new (less than 2000 years old) 'Christian' practice which was instituted by the Roman Catholic Church. However, saint worship is much older than Christianity. The Encyclopedia Britannica has interesting things to say about "saints". It tells us the practice is ancient and is also fairly universal; elements of "saint" worship are recognizable in Confucianism, Taoism, Shintoism, Buddhism (in at least two of its major forms), Zoroastrianism, Jainism, Hinduism and Parsiism; just to name a few. In the ancient Babylonian and Assyrian religions, "saint" worship was so central to their religious beliefs and practices that a priesthood was established primarily to say prayers of intercession to the "saints".

Since saint veneration was so prominent in the early centuries following Christ, especially within the confines of the world-ruling empire of Rome, its incorporation into 'Christianity' was natural once it was declared the state religion. However, in the New Testament, the term "saint" refers to any member of the Christian Church. Even within the Roman Catholic Church the term "Saint" was not used as an official title 600+ years after the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ . At that time it was bestowed to honor dead individuals who were already being worshipped!

Because saint worship was so popular and its adherents so zealous to continue their religious practices with the blessing of the Roman church, the veneration of saints got out of control. The church was somewhat overwhelmed with trying to keep up with all these new 'Christian' saints and their customs. In fact they made official efforts to control the explosive growth of this area of Catholic belief. Pope Urban VIII attempted to limit the growth of saint worship by "…forbidding the public cult (worshipful following) of any person not as yet beatified or canonized by the church. Exception was made only for those who were in possession of public cult from time immemorial or for at least 100 years. " [EMPHASIS MINE] But even their efforts to curb saint worship resulted in many pre-Christian pagan gods and heroes being "grandfathered in" and recognized as heroes of the 'Christian' faith just because their were too many worshippers of that god or hero to even attempt to convert them.

Today many professing Christians excuse their celebration of Saint Valentine's day by saying that it is not a religious holiday. (In fact, have you noticed that most people don’t say Saint Valentine's day any more? Most now shorten it to just "Valentine's Day".) After all do you know anyone who ever goes to Church on that day? But if the day is named for a supposed "saint", and we know for a fact that it is a religious holiday of the Roman Catholic Church, what business do non-Catholics have celebrating it? This is especially true now that you know the Roman Catholics simply 'Christianized' pagan gods and heroes, calling them saints so that the pagans would be comfortable to profess Christianity. After all, if you get to keep your pagan gods, with their celebrations and customs, how difficult is it to convert?

If Not Valentine…Lupercus? Juno?

The question now is: If this day does not commemorate a real person, a true Christian martyr, then who does it celebrate? A trip to the library (or the Internet) to research Valentine's Day will lead even the most casual researcher to an ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia. For some eight hundred years prior to the establishment of Saint Valentine's Day, the Romans had practiced a pagan rite-of-passage for young men, which dedicated them to the god Lupercus. This fertility rite and celebration of physical intimacy was held beginning on the "Ides of Februata" (the fifteenth of February). Lupercalia celebrates a primitive deity named Lupercus who gathered people together for safety and protected their herds and flocks from wolves. (In fact his name means the "wolf-man"; lupus in Latin is wolf.)

Discovering rites and ceremonies of the Lupercalia will enlighten us as to the origins of some of the popular practices of Valentine's Day today. Although the Lupercalia actually began on the 15 th of February, it was preceded on the 14 th of February by a festival of eroticism dedicated to the goddess Juno Februata. Juno was the Roman queen of the gods. She reigned as queen of the heavens and was known to the Romans as the god of women and considered responsible for marriage and physical intimacy. Her name Februata is the source from which we get the name of the month February. The word "febris" means hot, feverish. Therefore she is in effect, the queen of feverish love.

To honor Juno Februata and to recognize her power over the sexual/romantic aspects of their live, the names of young women would be placed in a box or jar. On The 14th of February young men who were about to celebrate the festival to Lupercus drew the names in a lottery. The young men who knew which young woman they wished for a partner would pin a note with the name of their intended to their sleeve and circulated publicly with it in full view so that they might get the attention of the goddess and thus her favor. To this day it is said that a young man who shows interest in a young lady is "wearing his heart on his sleeve". The lottery was held publicly and thus a woman was assigned to a man for entertainment and pleasure (frequently including sexual intimacy) for the duration of the year. After the year was over the names were once again placed into the lottery.

Later Pope Gelasius attempted to change the lottery for sex partners to a ceremony for recognition of 'Christian' characteristics. He did this by allowing both men and women to draw the names from the box on February 14 th. But instead of getting the name of a new sex/romance partner, what they received was the name of a "saint" whom they were expected to emulate for the next year. Imagine the disappointment of the participants the first year! Not surprisingly, the idea never really caught on.

To honor the god Lupercus goats (representing the herds) and a dog (representing the wolves) were sacrificed. Strips of skin were cut from their hides and fashioned into thongs, which were called "februs". The priests of Lupercus would circle the city walls (possibly representing the wolves outside the city) and strike anyone who was close enough with the strips of animal hide. Women who desired to become pregnant would actively seek to be struck with the februs thongs as it was believed this would cause them to be fertile and cause them to conceive.

Inventing Saint Valentine

The two festivals, Lupercus and Juno Februata, blended together in the process of their assimilation into Roman Catholic theology. A number of efforts were made to moderate the erotic nature of the celebration even after it became a 'Christian' holiday (including, but not limited to the one previously mentioned). After the failure of the church to redirect a celebration from being a sexually focused day to being a day to focus on good character traits, the church tried something that worked better. They would substitute romantic love for sexual intimacy as the focus for the celebration. With the various legends regarding the men named Valentinus or Valentine being very popular, they thought they might have their replacement for Lupercus. One serious problem remained however, Valentinus was known to be celibate! How could a chaste man who did not engage in romance become the patron saint of romance?

Enter now the Hagiographers, those weavers of words who were licensed to use historical fact and fable alike to fabricate biographies for saints. The story is told that one Valentinus, bishop of Interamna, had been martyred, beheaded by the evil emperor Claudius II in the year 269 or 270 AD. It seems that the emperor Claudius II had decided that married men made bad soldiers as they were concerned about getting home alive and well to their wives and families. (Who needs such liabilities among your soldiers when you are trying to conquer the world?) So the emperor abolished marriage, he banned it within his empire. It is said that Valentinus the priest secretly continued to marry young lovers in spite of the law. For this he was said to have been imprisoned, stoned, clubbed and beheaded depending on which version is read. Various stories exist about him healing the blind daughter of his jailer. In some stories he falls in love with her, but his imprisonment and subsequent death prevented any consummation of the relationship. Some stories have him signing a good-bye note to her "from your Valentine", thus giving rise to the tradition of calling someone for who you care your "valentine". Still others stories have an imprisoned Valentine dropping encouraging notes from his cell window to those whom were free. Interesting, if unreliable, notions to explain some of the traditions associated with the day.

Valentine = Lupercus = Nimrod?

Alexander Hislop, in his well-documented historical work, The Two Babylons, relates that Nimrod, the great-grandson of Noah, was the first to gather people together in cities in order to protect them from wild animals. Genesis 10:9 tells us that Nimrod was a "mighty hunter before the Lord" and indicates that he was a basis of comparison for renowned men and hunters. Actually, the words "against" and "in opposition to" more correctly reflect the original usage of the word translated "before" in this verse. Nimrod was a "mighty" man with the respect and admiration of the people. They idolized him. No doubt, all the young men wanted to be like him and the young women probably imagined themselves with him. Could it be that Nimrod is the venerated saint of the Lupercalia, the true Valentine? I believe so.

In Genesis 10 and 11 we read that after the flood people increased in numbers, we further read Nimrod began to establish a "kingdom" by building cities. If he established a kingdom, that means that he set himself up as a king, making himself someone to be revered, admired, and feared. The Bible tells us that at this time in history all people were of the same language and huddled together in one place, one area, and one geographic region know as the plain of Shiner. This they did in spite of the fact that God had commanded them to replenish the earth after the flood. There in the plain with their city-states and hero/king Nimrod they grew wicked and presumptuous, acting as though they could replace God himself by their team effort. They banded together to build a tower which would reach to the heavens, perhaps to protect them from any future floods sent by God to punish their wickedness. God recognized their attitudes and decided to scatter them geographically and to confuse their languages. Once the people's languages were confused, each would seek and stay with those who could understand what he or she was saying.

Although his kingdom was cut short and dispersed abroad, memories of the great hunter Nimrod, the one who had organized the people into walled cities to protect them from wild beasts, were no doubt preserved in all the languages and cultures which proceeded from the plains of Shinar. Stories of the mighty one, the great hunter and protector exist in most cultures and languages. This is the same with the accounts of a worldwide flood, which persist around the globe. And why should this not be so?

Practically all history after the flood comes to us from the cradle of post-flood mankind at Babel. Legends and myths about the hero/king grew and were embellished upon generation after generation. Jewish historian Flavius Josephus tells us that Noah's son Shem killed his great-nephew Nimrod because he had become a tyrant and was causing the people to go back into the same kind of idolatrous practices and attitudes which had so angered God before the flood.

Stories about the martyred Nimrod abound. He is worshipped under many names in many cultures. Nimrod and his alter ego son Tammuz form the fountainhead of mythology for male god-heroes. Their names change from culture to culture and language to language, but the underlying story remains much the same whether it comes to us from Roman, Greek, Assyrian, Babylonian or Egyptian sources. Besides Nimrod and Tammuz, they are known as Horus, Baal, Bel, Osiris, Mithra, Harpocrates, Tammuz, Pan, Bacchus, Dionysius and many others. Nimrod's wife Semiramis is also worshipped under many names. These names include Juno, Isis, Minerva, Cybele, Venus, Aphrodite, Diana, Astarte, and Ishstar to name only a few. The original mother and child who were worshipped as gods is actually traceable back to Nimrod's wife and son.

What About Valentine Hearts?

Why are there so many hearts used symbolically for Saint Valentine's Day? In western cultures and religions the heart is spoken of as being the center of emotion. So we naturally associate the heart with love and romance. But the use of the heart as a symbol also goes back to the pagan trinity of Nimrod, Semiramis and Tammuz. The stories of their exploits include descriptions of the death of Nimrod. This mighty hunter was considered a savior. To the thinking of his followers he was martyred. Shem, it is said, cut Nimrod apart and sent the pieces to the people scattered about as a warning of what would happen to anyone who would dare lead the people back into idolatry.

In the story of the death of Bacchus, his wife Minerva managed to snatch away his heart after it was ripped from his lifeless body. Later from his dead heart, sprang his son Dionysius. It was said that Dionysius was Bacchus reincarnated--born again! From this story we can see the beginnings of the use of the heart as an important symbol of the original false messiah. Some may attempt to justify Saint Valentine's Day and heart symbols by pointing to the widespread use of the "sacred heart of Jesus" in religious art. However, as the Encyclopedia Britannica rightly states: "The use of Jesus' heart to symbolize his love for men is not found in the Bible, but in the writings of some medieval mystics." Were those mystics from the dark ages actually attributing to Jesus, the true messiah, features and mythology from the original false messiah?

How About Cupid?

Yes, what about Cupid? You know that chubby little naked baby with wings. He goes around shooting people with a tiny bow and arrow to make them fall in love with one another. How does that fit in? Cupid is one of the names of the son of Nimrod. It is he who is said to have alive from the heart of his dead father. The bow and arrow identify him as the "mighty hunter" reborn. His wings testify that, as his mother claimed, he was not just the son of Nimrod. No, he was also the incarnation of the invincible sun god. You see Nimrod had been killed. So Semiramis declared that upon his death Nimrod became the sun god. Therefore, the child she bore after his death was the reincarnation of Nimrod and a god in his own right. The mythology in place, it was natural for the artists to give Cupid wings so that like his father the sun, he could fly across the sky.

Now what is Cupid's talent? To make people love and desire one another of course. The very name Cupid means "desire". He, like his supposed father, was said to very striking in appearance. In fact Cupid (or Adonis as he is known when considering his good looks) was so attractive that even his own mother seduced him. What a perverse and wicked family! No wonder Shem was moved to act so violently against a leader of such low morals whom he saw perverting the people. Alexander Hislop states that the idol know as the "desire of women" which is mentioned in Daniel 11:37 and as the image of jealousy in Ezekiel 8:5 is none other than the person of Tammuz/Adonis/Cupid etc. It is he whom is mentioned by the name Tammuz in Ezekiel 8:14. Here we read that God considers the weeping for Tammuz (remember he, like his father came to a violent death, thus the ritual mourning for forty days each spring) to be a terrible abomination. It is an abomination because it was done in conjunction with the worship of the true God in his temple! God does not look kindly to mixing paganism with his true worship.

Sending of Cards

You may think to yourself, even of all these things are true, surely there is no harm in sending or receiving cards that say, "Be my Valentine". After all, wasn't that custom started because a righteous man who was imprisoned sent loving notes of encouragement to those who were free? But listen to what the Encyclopedia Britannica has to say regarding the sending of cards in Volume 12, page 242: "The custom has no connection with the two Saint Valentines or with known incidents in their lives." [EMPASIS MINE.] (The reader may note that Britannica speaks of only two Saint Valentines whereas the Catholic Encyclopedia admits to three separate persons.)

The sending of cards apparently became tied to Saint Valentine's Day approximately 800 years after the Church of Rome officially recognized it. In 1415 AD, the Duke of Orleans was imprisoned by the British in the Tower of London. He reportedly sent a rhyming love poem to his wife in France on Saint Valentine's Day, thus beginning a romantic tradition. But does that romantic story make it OK to ask someone to be your Valentine?

Just as the name Cupid has meaning, so does Valentine. Taken from the Latin word Valentinus, which is a proper name based on the word Valens, the name Valentine means a strong, powerful or mighty one. Just like Nimrod the mighty one, and mighty hunter before the Lord! So, in effect, when you ask someone to be your "Valentine" you are asking him or her to be your "mighty one". You are (whether you recognize it or not) honoring an ancient pagan deity! TO DO SO IS AN ABOMINATION TO THE ETERNAL GOD AND IS BLATANT IDOLATRY!

Conclusion

But isn't it OK to "redeem the day" and worship God with the customs and ceremonies that were previously used for worshipping pagan gods? After all, people today don't intentionally worship Nimrod, they do what they do with love in their hearts toward the true God, don't they? They may be observing and celebrating a day of pagan origin, using pagan practices, but they are thinking of the God of Israel while they are doing it. Besides, doesn't the scripture say to "do all as unto the Lord"? WHAT PERVERSE AND SATANIC REASONING! That is akin to coming home in the middle of the night and saying to your wife or husband "Honey I stopped by a bar on the way home and met someone really good looking. We had great sex and did all kinds of things you wouldn't approve of. BUT HEY, DON'T WORRY, ITS ALL RIGHT BECAUSE I WAS THINKING OF YOU THE WHOLE TIME!

Throughout the Bible God uses the analogy of marriage to symbolize his relationship with his people. He uses adultery to compare with false worship. It is for an unspotted and virtuous bride that Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) will return.

The Bible is God's instruction book for man. In it, He does not teach us to venerate or worship the dead. Let us not be found, as Biblical Christians, observing ANY DAY designated to any so-called "saints". This would include Saint Patrick's Day, All Saints Day (Halloween) and Saint Nicholas Day (Christmas). In Jeremiah 10:2 God warns us not to learn to worship him like the heathens worship their gods. We read: Thus saith the LORD, Learn not the way of the heathen, and be not dismayed at the signs of heaven; for the heathen are dismayed at them.

In Deuteronomy 12:29-32 He plainly tells us that we CANNOT serve him by incorporating the practices of the heathen because those acts and the people who perform them are an abomination to him. Read it yourself: ¶ When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

May the Eternal grant us the courage to admit our mistakes and the boldness to change our direction, to abandon these old idolatrous practices which are deceitfully portrayed as "Christian". Let's stop pretending that it doesn't really matter. Let's teach our children and families the truth from God's word instead of the lies and abominations of pagan idolatry.


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