by JC Jan
Valentine’s day is synonymous with love, and love is that 4-letter word that is understood and misunderstood at the same time by many.
Until the 14th century poet, Geoffery Chaucer, first associated romantic love with the feast of St Valentine, it was simply regarded as a religious event. Around the 14th century, the tradition of courtly love flourished, so it was not difficult to associate love to the Feast of St Valentine, especially when a respected lettered man was leading the revolution. It began to grow into a big occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by sending flowers, greeting cards and other gifts in the 18th century England known as “valentines.”
But before then, what or who is “Valentine”? What is its significance? And why is it celebrated as a feast day?
Valentine’s Day, also known as Saint Valentine’s Day or Feast of Saint Valentine (according to the Roman Catholic Church) is an annually celebrated event on the 14th day of every February. With its Western Christian origin, it seeks to honour the memory of two early Catholic saints named Valentinus (coined from “valene”, a Latin word for strong and healthy). It has come to be recognized as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and romantic love in many regions of the globe.
But then, the numerous martyrdom stories that trail this day does not escape us; one of which includes a documented account of Saint Valentine of Rome who was imprisoned and later killed for his audaciousness to secretly wed soldiers in the Roman Empire, who were forbidden by law to marry in order to keep them fit for war. The Feast of Saint Valentine was thus established in AD 496 by Pope Gelasius to be celebrated on 14 February in memory and honour of the Christian martyr, Saint Valentine of Rome, who was murdered on that date in AD 296.
Not necessarily a public holiday in any nation, it has nonetheless been made an official celebration by almost all churches, peoples and governments of the world, claiming for itself, the symbol of a heart-shaped outline in red painting, doves and the child-like figure of a winged cupid.
To this extent, the feast day is meant to be a day of peace, romantic love and kindness. This is what we have come to associate Valentine’s Day with. Some persons across the world have even extended it be a day to remember and show love to the less privileged, the sick, the imprisoned and all other downtrodden people they can reach out to. These people are given gifts, money, food, medical care and, sometimes, shelter; suffice it to say that this is how I feel it should be.
But even when I feel like saying we must not wait for Valentine’s Day to do all these to and for our fellow humans, it is also important to point out that in so many corners of the world today, Valentine’s Day has become synonymous with excess partying, drinking, smoking, and juvenile sex orgy that robs a coal of misplaced priority to the whole thing.
Most persons and organisation now set out the day to massage their ego, by carrying camera phones and media men around to centres where they intend to do charity work in order to show the world how human they are; a deceitful means some times, to defraud international bodies of support fund.
In light of the aforementioned, I’d like to encourage us to remain focused on the initial outline of the celebration which is based on mutual understanding and the spread of sacrificial and unconditional love. Without sacrifice, there is no Valentine in our valentine’s…
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