The Feast of Saint Valentine, a liturgical celebration of early Christian saints has since evolved into a yearly expression of love among lovers and loved ones. In a couple of hours, it will be yet another Valentine’s Day, celebrated on the 14th of February in many parts of the world. The euphoria heightens as the day draws closer, especially among the younger generation.
There have been debates about the importance or otherwise of the controversial day. And as much as many (particularly the male folk) never pass up the opportunity to express their exasperation regarding the (in)significance of the day, it’s safe to say that Val’s Day has come to stay regardless of the fact that it is not recognized as a public holiday in many parts of the world. Interestingly, from past experiences, it is also one day that can make or mar the future of a relationship. The truth is that the day means a lot to many, especially the ladies. Lovers the world over anticipate the sharing of gifts and pubic display of affection that the special day practically foists on even the most private people. For others, it is a time to determine their place in the life of a tentative lover or love interest. A disregard for Valentine’s Day may mark the beginning of the end for some relationships, as ridiculous as it may sound.
What is interesting is that the commercialization of the modern day Valentine’s Day is a far cry from the legend surrounding it’s history. The most popular account which encapsulates the sacrificial love demonstrated by Saint Valentine, who risked his freedom to conduct marriages for soldiers and healed the blind daughter of his tormentor can hardly be reconciled with the ephemeral exchange of greeting cards, confectioneries and gifts that the day is synonymous with these days.
The other thing that baffles me is that from all accounts, the legend of Valentine’s Day strictly records it as a Christian celebration. As it is observed in the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Church, even though it is celebrated in July instead of the most widely adopted month of February. But, people of other faiths have since joined in acknowledging the day in what comes across as not giving too much thought to its history.
The critics of the celebration of St Valentine’s Day point to the widespread infidelity, adultery, fornication and general immorality that the day encourages. They claim it only promotes “surface love” and not the authentic selfless love that true religion preaches. And they may have a point. But, infidelity and immorality occur every day, whether we acknowledge it or not. They also argue that the expression of love should be a daily ritual and that it is quite shallow to set a particular day of the year aside for its recognition.
As much as there may be a marked surge in the “sins of the flesh” on Valentine’s Day, there are upsides to it too. It would be wrong to deny the generosity extended to the less privileged in the society on the occasion. Yes, anything that will encourage the elites spare a thought for the down trodden is welcome regardless of how “sad” that may sound to some.
As a bit of a sucker for all things related to love, I have absolutely no qualms about the celebration of Val’s day, as long as it is not taken as a do-or-die affair, and no one is breaking the bank to satisfy their partner. If the “opponents” of the adoption of a particular day to express love are not just cynical about the notion that the day is mainly for the Romeo and Juliets of this world, then they should also have their reservations about other widely celebrated anniversaries too. Because, as far as I am concerned, the logic remains the same. We do not need a specific date to be set aside to acknowledge any important anniversary at all. Christians do not need to wait for Christmas and Easter to appreciate the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Muslims do not need a particular day to celebrate the birthday of the Holy Prophet Mohammed. Couples do not need to reach a milestone of five or ten years to appreciate their love for each other and the journey they have shared so far. The same logic applies!
My only reservation concerning all the hype around Valentine’s Day (apart from the shenanigans associated with it) in particular is that in this age of the social media, people tend to be more concerned about outdoing the other person rather than simply showing love in the most genuine and truthful way possible. Pictures of flowers, chocolates and gifts are displayed on social media profiles not to appreciate the giver, but to make those “unfortunate” enough not to be in a relationship or who are for some reason “not privileged” to be the recipient of such green with the envy.
In recent years, some men have chosen this day of love to propose marriage to their girlfriends, which makes sense, except that nowadays, even that has been reduced into some kind of competition. Young people wait with bated breaths to see who had the most creative or expensive proposal. Married women compare notes on whose husband was able to afford a trip to Paris or Mauritius especially in this tough economic period. The nosy ones also use the opportunity to make life difficult for the singletons. Everyone wants to know “the special someone” in a single person’s life.
At the end of the day, Valentine’s Day is just another day. For those celebrating, it is surely a good time to give to people who are not in the position to give back. And for all it’s worth, to play the semblance of a devil’s advocate, a leading charity revealed that babies conceived on Valentine’s Day are the least likely to suffer from Multiple Sclerosis.
Studies have also suggested that babies born around November and December are better behaved and more intelligent than those born in the summer months. Being a November baby myself, this piece of information understandably thrills me.
Happy Valentine’s Day People!!