Saint Valentine's Day
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
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.