St. Valentine & St. Cyril
Everyone in North America, be they Christian or not, knows two saints days: February 14 is St. Valentine’s Day, and March 17 is St. Patrick’s Day. These have become popular cultural holidays, the former having become associated with love, fidelity, candy, roses, and little winged Cupids (and the busiest night of the year in restaurants). On the Orthodox Christian calendar, however, you will not find St. Valentine commemorated in February at all. What gives?
Since the Eastern and Western Christian calendars were sundered, changes have slowly but surely crept in—there are even differences between saints days in different parts of the Orthodox world. In Eastern liturgics, we remember St. Valentine in July, and on February 14 we remember the repose of St. Cyril, Enlightener of the Slavs. Not terribly romantic, perhaps, but children are naturally excited about holidays and we like to embrace opportunities to harness their excitement for good. We love a good feast day, after all!
We have gathered some ideas below for some simple activities for Valentine’s Day (in the hearts-and-candy sense), as well as some suggestions for how to use this as a teaching opportunity in your little church!
- Print some Orthodox saint Valentine’s Day cards for your children to give to their friends
- Make a paper heart chain to decorate your home
- Put together some treats for loved ones that your kids can do mostly on their own, like Valentine Dots or Oreo Truffles
- For kids that can do more in the kitchen, make and decorate some roll-out cookies to share with loved ones
- Fish for Hearts
- Read and reflect on this homily by Bishop Demetri Khoury on the nature of an Orthodox Valentine’s Day
- Make a St. Valentine Snuggly Saint doll
- This would be a great day to introduce and discuss the sacraments of the church, particularly marriage. What is the purpose of marriage? How does the sacramental view of marriage differ from or align with the various portrayals of love we see around us on February 14?
- Discuss the different types of love that were understood by the Church Fathers. Consider the ways we do (or do not) live out these types of love in our daily lives.
- Discuss who and what makes a saint
- Review the life of St. Cyril and his hymnography
- Read a book about St. Cyril
- Do some activities related to the life of St. Cyril