Pick a card—or a day

Pick a card—or a day

Jan 24, 2013

Pick a card—or a day

by Leanne Lippincott-Wuerthele


As most people know, Valentine’s Day is observed in the U.S. on February 14th each year. The original “St. Valentine” was a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named “Valentinus.” Several martyrdom stories were invented for these various saints and added to later martyrologies. In 1969, Pope Paul VI deleted this celebration from the General Roman Calendar of saints.

Several centuries after these initial celebrations, poets began adding modern romantic connotations. Geoffrey Chaucer and others in his circle were among the first individuals to associate romantic love with the celebration. This was during the High Middles Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.

By the 15th century, Valentine’s Day had evolved into an occasion where people expressed their deep love for each other by presenting flowers, offering “confectionery,” and sending greeting cards—which became known as “valentines.”

Modern Valentine’s Day symbols include doves, winged cupids, and various heart-shaped designs. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards.

When it comes to how many valentines are bought in the U.S. each year, the numbers differ widely. One estimate is “over 10 million,” while another says one billion cards are sold annually. (Half of those are sold the week of the holiday, while the largest—and most elaborate cards—are sold 48 hours prior to Valentine’s Day.)

Last February, an additional 66 million “e-card” valentines were sent—five times the number e-mailed in 2011.

There are a number of other occasions when people send cards. These include Christmas, Hanukkah, Easter, Thanksgiving, Halloween, birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, first Communion, baptisms, Confirmation, retirement, and graduation.

Let’s not forget get-well cards, thinking-of-you cards, thank-you notes, baby and wedding shower cards, congratulations-on-the-birth-of-your-baby cards, and sympathy cards.

Then there’s Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Sweetest Day, Pastor Appreciation Day, Secretary’s Day (now Administrative Professionals Day), and National Grandparents Day.

Speaking of Grandparents Day, the now-deceased SDB senator from West Virginia, Jennings Randolph, introduced a resolution to the Senate in 1973 to make Grandparents Day a national holiday, but it died in committee. (Marian McQuade of Oak Hill, W.Va., was the actual founder of the day.) Senator Randolph, along with other senators, introduced a Joint Resolution in February of 1977, and President Jimmy Carter signed it, officially proclaiming the first Sunday after Labor Day as National Grandparents Day.

In this country, every month also has many special designations, some significant and some silly.



For instance, February is known as American Heart Month, An Affair to Remember Month, Black History Month, Canned Food Month, Creative Romance Month, Great American Pie Month, National Cherry Month, National Children’s Dental Health Month, National Grapefruit Month, and National Weddings Month. The third week of February is designated International Flirting Week.

Some of February’s special days include: National Freedom Day, Feb. 1; Ground Hog Day, Feb. 2; The Day the Music Died, Feb. 3 [Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and the Big Bopper died in a plane crash on that date in 1959]; Thank a Mailman Day, Feb. 4; Boy Scout Day, Feb. 8; Toothache Day, Feb. 9; Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, Make a Friend Day, and White T-Shirt Day, all Feb.11; Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday, Feb. 12; Valentine’s and National Organ Donor Day, both Feb. 14; Do a Grouch a Favor Day, Feb. 16; Cherry Pie Day, Feb. 20; Be Humble Day, Feb. 22; and National Tortilla Chip Day, Feb. 24.

No matter how a month or a day is designated, Christians need to focus on one simple but profound truth: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24).

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