Valentine's Day in History: Comments in Baptist Press from Michael Haykin

Dr. Haykin is quoted on the history of Valentine's Day in the following Baptist Press article: The following is an excerpt from the article, which was published Friday.

From the perspective of church history, celebrating romantic love on Valentine's Day is a relatively recent phenomenon, said Michael Haykin, professor of church history and biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. The holiday originated as a Christian feast to honor a third-century martyr known as St. Valentine of Rome.

"Virtually nothing certain is known about St. Valentine of Rome," Haykin told BP in written comments. "... In fact, St. Valentine may well be the conflation of two martyrs by the same name of Valentine. The association of this martyr with romantic love comes in the Middle Ages. It appears to have been the remarkable author Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1343-1400), the so-called father of English literature, who linked St. Valentine with romance -- at least between birds -- in his allegory 'The Parliament of Fowls.'

"By the Victorian era," Haykin continued, "lovers were in the habit of sending each other hand-made cards on St. Valentine's Day. Romantic love in Christian thought is primarily rooted, interestingly enough, in the Puritans [believers who sought to purify the Church of England in the 16th-18th centuries]. It was some Puritan authors who first maintained in Christian history that marriage should only be contracted on the basis of love and that parents should not compel children to marry where there was no love."

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