An Interpretation of Valentine's Day

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“Suzanne Gelb Image”

Dear Readers:


Over the next few months I will supplement my answers with self-help materials. A supplement for today’s comments can be found in my book “Welcome Home. A Book About Overcoming Addictions” (p. 80 “Valentine’s Day – a gift of love.”) For more information, visit my Web site at

”Dr. Gelb Says … Happy Valentine’s Day”

Dear Readers:

About all that many of us understand about Valentine’s Day is that we get bombarded, or at least we hope to get bombarded, by pretty red hearts, flowers and boxes of candy, mostly chocolate of course, in all kinds of heart shapes that can be imagined. Sometimes some of us take the candy out of the heart shaped box and put it in a square box and pass it on to a loved one or friend. Of course, we use some brand name candy box so we can disguise what is often inexpensive Valentine’s candy, often bought at the last minute from the grocery store. That being said, the history of Valentine’s Day is also interesting. There are numerous legends and interpretations of what this day symbolizes, and I decided to share one of my favorites with you, which goes like this . . .

In about the year 270 A.D. Claudius-II, the Roman Emperor forbid soldiers to marry because he believed that they would not fight well if they had loved ones waiting for them at home. The Emperor’s “logic” was that an emotionally attached soldier would not put himself in harm’s way like an unattached soldier would. St. Valentine, who was a priest near Rome at the time, saw how traumatic the Emperor’s edict forbidding marriage was to young lovers and, considering God’s law more powerful than Caesar’s law, he married the young couples in secret.

The Emperor learned of this and had Valentine arrested. But because he was impressed by Valentine’s commitment to his principles, Claudius II tried to convert Valentine to the Roman gods, acceptance of which would spare him from execution. Valentine would not yield and in fact he tried to convert the Emperor, knowing what the consequences for his noncompliance would be. Valentine was executed on Feb. 24, 270. While he was in prison he healed his jailer’s blind daughter via his faith, restoring her sight. It is also said that he also may have fell in love with her. Shortly before he was executed, he sent her a farewell message, signed “From Your Valentine.”

Thereafter, Valentine became a Patron Saint of an annual festival where on Feb. 14 young Roman men gave women they admired and wanted to court a handwritten greeting of affection. These cards were identified as St. Valentine’s cards and spread with Christianity, to the point where Valentine’s Day is now celebrated worldwide.

My wish is that people could maintain the joy and fondness that they exchange during these Valentine’s Day moments and continue to express this warm sharing every day, much like Christmas where many enjoy the cheer and the camaraderie of the season. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could extend these kinds of positive feelings into our lives on a daily basis?

”’Suzanne J. Gelb, Ph.D., J.D. authors this daily column, Dr. Gelb Says, which answers questions about daily living and behavior issues. Dr. Gelb is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Honolulu. She holds a Ph.D. in Psychology and a Ph.D. in Human Services. Dr. Gelb is also a published author of a book on Overcoming Addictions and a book on Relationships.”’

”’This column is intended for entertainment use only and is not intended for the purpose of psychological diagnosis, treatment or personalized advice. For more about the column’s purpose, see”’ “An Online Intro to Dr. Gelb Says”

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