Age does not protect you from love. But love, to some extent, protects you from age. – Anais Nin

While the history of Valentine’s Day is buried in legend and myth, the legend generally considered closest to fact today is the story of Valentine, a priest in the Roman Empire during the reign of Claudius II. Valentine, in disobedience of a law that stated soldiers in the Roman Army could not marry because it was believed they would be better soldiers if they were single, secretly married the soldiers to their sweethearts anyway. As a reward, Valentine was incarcerated and executed, thereby achieving martyrdom.

St. Valentine was not martyred on February 14th, however. The date was actually chosen deliberately by the Catholic Church, which regularly incorporated the dates of pagan celebrations into the Christian mythos. Much like December 25th (the first day of the Roman Saturnalia celebration) and Easter (usually occurs around Passover), February 14th was chosen to incorporate the Roman Lupercalia festival into the Christian calendar.

Regardless of its origins, Valentine’s Day in modern times has become a salute to love and lovers. From grade school cards passed around with boxes of candy hearts, to first kisses at high school dances, and bouquets of wild flowers for your first serious girlfriend, Valentine’s Day has become the most important holiday on the calendar to express romantic love.

St. Valentine, the patron saint of love, would say it’s not about what the valentine’s day gifts are as much as the fact that you took time to do something exceptional for the person who loves you every day, not just on holidays. Do something like leave little hand-written love notes for him or her to find all day (in their purse, lunch, taped to their razor, etc.). Do something for them that you wouldn’t normally do, like cook them dinner or give them a day off from their chores. Maybe take them on a day trip to somewhere exciting that he or she always wanted to go, but you never seem to get around to.

If you do feel like going big and blowing a few bucks on a valentines present, try getting them something different from the usual flowers and candy. On the infinite Internet, you can find anything from hand-made gifts (or you could take the time to make one yourself), to custom-written songs for you sweetheart, to gifts embossed with your favorite photos. You can even have a star named after them, if you think that’s their thing. The key is to take the time to find something that is perfect for them. Your goal is not to spend a ton of money…your goal is to make their heart swell with love once they realize how much time and effort you’ve taken to find the perfect Valentine’s Day gift.

You don’t have to spend a nickel to show someone you love them – your time is the greatest gift you can give. The time you spend thinking of a way to make them happy, and the quality time you spend with them just hanging out and doing something fun is time you will both remember for years to come.

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