Here are seven super-simple ways to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day with your kids, plus some other resources with great ideas for the holiday.
1. Emphasize the “Saint(s)” Part of St. Valentine’s Day
Although most of what we know about St. Valentine has been mixed with legend and lore, one of the prevailing (and quite lovely) stories is that St. Valentine was someone who risked his life (and was ultimately martyred) for the sake of marriage. (Those red hearts don’t just stand for love…they are also a symbol of martyrdom.) That’s amazing stuff
Franciscan Media, which can found online at franciscanmedia.org, has several stories about St. Valentine. A priest beheaded for helping persecuted Christians? Someone who married Christians in secret? A bishop beheaded due to his works? Who knows, but the inspiration is there: Fight for the persecuted and give glory to God.
A more detailed explanation of the three different versions of St. Valentine can be found online in this article by Father William Saunders. The article was originally published in The Arlington Catholic Herald.
2. Make an Urn of Saintly Role Models
- index cards
- book on saints or
other online resourcewith information about saints
- bowl large enough to hold index cards
Ancient Romans would celebrate Feb. 14 as a day dedicated to the fertility festival Lupercalia. Men and women would put their names in an urn and be randomly paired to court each other. (That’s one way to go on a blind date!)
Put a Catholic spin on the custom, and pair your children with saints they admire. In the days or weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, have your children write a few of their favorite saints on slips of paper. Include your children’s names and their saints in a bowl. Pair your children with a saint, and encourage them to learn about the saint and prepare a little presentation for a family Valentine’s Day meal.
Interesting fact: Apparently Pope Gelasius I initiated this idea to combat the silliness of the secular tradition.
3. Write Love Letters and Deliver Valentines
- stickers, glue
Set aside time in the coming week for everyone (including moms and dads) to write love letters to other members of the family. The love letters can be simple, two- or three-line affairs, or more involved. You can provide stickers and craft materials for decorating them.
The important thing is to help your kids practice saying “I love you”—and recognizing what they love about the people closest to them. Help them along by brainstorming with them some positive traits about other people in the family. Save the love letters to be exchanged on Valentine’s Day.
Encourage your children to make and deliver Valentine cards to:
- God, giving thanks and praise for all he has given your family. You can read these aloud as part of your dinnertime prayer routine.
- Grocery store shoppers: What a better way to delight someone who might not otherwise receive a Valentine?
- People in a nursing home: You might need to coordinate a drop-off with the residential staff prior to your visit.
4. Decorate the House with Quotes About Love
- printable hearts found online at “God Loves You Hearts” from the Peanut Butter & Grace website
- pencils, crayons, markers
Decorate the house with quotes about love from the Scriptures and from the saints, putting them on cut-out hearts or colored construction paper. Better yet, have your older kids and teens find quotes and make the decorations.
For printable hearts, click on “God Loves You Hearts” on the Peanut Butter & Grace website for more ideas.
- pencils, crayons, markers
Make it a day for hugs! Encourage hugs all around by making up hug tickets (cut-out hearts work well). Pass them out at the beginning of the day, and let kids redeem them throughout the day (or week). Check out the Free Hugs Campaign for fun stuff about the power of a hug.
6. Tell the Story of How You Met
Over a meal, tell your kids the story of how you met your spouse. Or, if you’re not married, tell a funny or interesting love story from your own life. Bonus: If you considered another vocation, such as the religious life, tell about that, too.
7. Start the Day with an Act of Love
The Act of Love is a traditional prayer that goes like this:
O Lord God, I love you above all things
and I love my neighbor for your sake
because you are the highest, infinite and perfect good,
worthy of all my love.
In this love I intend to live and die.
If this feels too formal, make your own Act of Love . . . you can even post it on your refrigerator for the week. Either way, it’s a reminder that all love has its origins and destiny in God.