Understanding Essence Of Celebrating Valentine - SALIENT TIMES ONLINE

Understanding Essence Of Celebrating Valentine

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By: Momodu Kazeem

Valentine Day has become a global period when people show affection for one another, by sending messages of love, cards, flowers or even chocolates to express their feelings of love particularly to their spouse. Some of the common Symbols of Valentine’s Day are hearts red roses and cupid.

According to historical record, the day get its name from a famous Saint Valentine, who lived in Rome in the 3rd  Century AD. Although the records varied about St Valentine, but the fact remains that he was a Catholic Priest, who disobeyed Emperor Claudus II ban on young men in Rome from  getting married, as he believed that marriage will not make them good soldiers. Valentine felt the order was unfair and cruel, so he broke the rules and arranged for a marriage in secret. Emperor Claudus discovered valentine’s secret marriage, jailed valentine and sentenced him to death for disregarding his order. Even in the jail valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was to be executed on 14 of February, 270 he sent a love letter, expressing his undying love and ended the letter with a signature, your Valentine.

Record showed that, it was not until 200 years St. Valentine was executed, that 14 February was proclaimed St. Valentine’s Day. By this time Rome had become Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to stamp out any remaining paganism. A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Pope abolished this festival and proclaimed 14 February Saint Valentine’s Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.     

To immortalize St. Valentine that was gruesomely killed by Emperor Claudus in 270, the church, therefore turned the festival to a Christian based celebration and also to remember St. Valentine too. Today People all over the world are using St. Valentine name as symbol of expressing their feeling of love; common among the expressions are: you are my Val, your valentine, or would you be my Val? The younger ones, should be more careful, so as not assume that the day is meant for immoralities and illegal love affection among people.

According to British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) websites the first Valentine’s Day was in the year 496, it originated from a Roman's festival called Lupercalla in the middle of February – officially the start of their springtime. During this festival, boys usually draw names of gifts from a box, forming a partner of boyfriend and girlfriend during festival, for gift sharing which sometimes led to marriages. Aristotle once said “one who loves solitude is either a wild beast or god”. 

The poet Chaucer, in the Middle Ages was the first to link St. Valentine with romantic love. This was the beginning of the tradition of courtly love, a ritual of expressing love and administration, usually in secret. This custom spread throughout Europe and stories grew about a High Court of Love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on 14 February each year. Historians believe that the occasion was in fact gatherings where people read love poetry and played games of flirtation. 

Though, the practice of sending love messages special cards expressing their affection developed among people and was given different meanings. These cards were beautiful handmade by the sender and some are individually designed to show how much they love the recipient. Cards would usually contain sentimental words, proclaiming the beauty of the receiver and how much they were loved. 

Saint Valentine’s Day cards are usually decorated with pictures of cupid, symbol of hearts and flowers laced with ribbon. These images are still used today to symbolize love and are recognized all over the world. Some social experts said lack true love is one of the key problems bedeviling the world today and traceable to man’s refusal to live in harmony. It must be emphasized that love is the only panacea to solving global instability and hatred.

 The main objective of the day that some people in Africa tagged as festival of love should be redefined to remember someone so dear to us, to honour someone who has contributed immensely to our success story in life and also promote virtue of true love that was central message sent by Valentine even at point of death. But regrettably, many young ones have misconstrued the occasion to something else today.

It is ideal to show love and share gifts during Valentine’s Day, because it is a season of absolute commitment to a profitable goal as well as showing kindness to someone we truly loved and cared for. The loved ones can be our neighbours, friends and family members. The spirit of sharing gifts that are affordable such as cards, flowers and chocolates are just token of concern. What matters in this celebration is the goodwill we show to others, our kindness to impact positively on others and create good relationship. However, recent happenings in the world indicate that the original ethos of Valentine celebration has been bastardized. The sanctity of the event has been reduced to a mere festivity of immoral pleasure.   

The debasement of virtue of love has been heightened to an ignoble proportion. The language that Valentine Day speaks is the erotic attraction between opposite sex and the banal carnality that ensues. Instead of promoting the amiable virtue of love, lust has taken the centre stage. The attendant impact of this value disorientation is the perpetuation of evil that herald the celebration. As you can see in the spirit of Saint Valentine that man originally was created with a nature to love. Before the ‘corruption’ of his nature, the expression of love was natural to him; giving was done in a reflex manner. He didn’t need to think or even struggle to give and help others. His sense of compassion to the needs of others was very strong and real.

While Valentine’s Day is celebrated in most countries, different cultures have developed their own traditions for this festival. In some parts of the word Valentine’s Day is observed as a day for expressing love between family members and friends. Some traditions include leaving lollies and gifts for children and others include acts of appreciation between friends.

Valentine’s Day is most commonly associated with romantic love, with millions of cards being exchanged each year. Gifts of flowers or a single red rose are sent with romantic message to loved ones and couples spend special time together. Valentine ought to be a season of love and not lust. Like love for country or love for community wellbeing, where members are to cohabit at ensuring the development  of their lands.

If the celebration is all about sacrifice and love, then God ought to be the centre of the celebration.  As a matter of fact, we need to collectively redirect our focus towards ensuring socio-economic wellbeing of the people particularly the less privilege, the motherless children and those who are physically challenged in the society. The Valentine Day should also be used to preach peaceful co-existence among diverse ethnic groups and encourage the younger’s one to be diligent, loyal and committed to national development.

The nation will be a better place for all, if we can sincerely sow the seed of love and celebrate the day with the spirit of brotherliness that will shun raping, kidnapping, terrorism among other evil acts that are inhuman. Let us understand that  St. Valentine Day is a worthy period of remembering true sacrifice of love for humanity and to attain a virile society. 

 Momodu Kazeem, Ministry of Information & Strategy, Oke – Mosan, Abeokuta, Ogun State.