It is important that we understand the roots of Valentine’s Day. Some people know valentine as a day when lovers care and show love for each other. Valentine’s Day—the popular festival of love and romances—traces its origin to an ancient Roman festival. It is not a creation of card companies.
There are various legends associated with the festival along with the belief that birds began to mate from this day. The popularity of the Valentine’s Day festival stems from the combined effects of all these legends, beliefs and, of course, the wish to glorify the unparalleled feeling of love.
Historians trace the origin of Valentine’s Day to the ancient Roman Empire. It is said in Rome people observed a holiday on February 14th to honour Juno—the Queen of Roman gods and goddesses. The Romans also regarded Juno as the goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th began the fertility festival called Feast of Lupercalia.
The festival of Lupercalia was celebrated to honour the gods Lupercus and Faunus—the Roman god of agriculture besides the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.
An interesting custom was followed in the Feast of Lupercalia to bring together boys and girls who were otherwise strictly separated. On the eve of the festival, names of young Roman girls were written on a slip of paper and placed into jars. Each young man drew out a girl’s name from the jar and was paired with the girl for the duration of Lupercalia.
Sometimes the pairing lasted until next year’s celebration. Quite often, the couple would fall in love and later marry. The custom lasted for a long time until people felt that it was un- Christian and that mates should be chosen by sight not luck.
The pairing of young boys and girls did set the mood for the Valentine’s Day festival as we know it today. But it was actually due to the efforts and daring acts of a Roman Catholic priest St Valentine that the festival got its name and clearer meaning.
The story goes that during the reign of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in several bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius found it tough to get soldiers and felt the reason was men did not join the army because they did not wish to leave their wives and families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.
A romantic at heart, Saint Valentine defied Claudius’ unjustified order. Along with Saint Marius, St Valentine secretly married couples. When his defiance was discovered, Valentine was brutally beaten and put to death on February 14th, about 270 AD. After his death, Valentine was named a Saint.
Other writers have argued that the history of Valentine’s Day is very pagan and promotes promiscuous behaviour, especially among young people. Whatever the history of Valentine’s Day is, we have been accustomed to believing that this is the day when lovers show each other deep affection and love and buy each other impeccable presents which otherwise would not be bought on any given day.
Further, it is a fact that Valentine’s Day brings its own pressures, especially to those individuals who are still single and searching for love. People go to the extent of sending themselves flowers and chocolates and having them delivered in their offices to appear to be loved by someone.
They then go ahead and post these on social media with varying degrees of captions which go from, ‘valentine’s day bliss’, ‘thank you beau’ or indeed, ‘when you are loved’, among others.
On the streets, you see people clad in red and white moving about and most restaurants are unusually full on this day for lunch and dinner dates. Then there are these newspaper pullouts with faces of people messages from their loved ones. There have also been instances when one picture has been featured twice or thrice by different individuals all confessing their undying love to that individual. There is really so much ado for a single day.
Sometimes the Valentine’s Day pressure is felt within marriages. A man/woman would go out of their way to buy flowers and presents for their spouse. And in those marriages where such things are never done, such ad hoc acts of affection can really be intimidating and can easily pass as ‘fake’ or done out of ‘duty’.
For other couples, they tend to have unfounded expectations of what this day should bring and how they want to be treated; mostly this stems from seeing what their friends have received from their own spouses. When the expectations are not met, this causes strife and stress in relationships.
The question I want to bring about in this piece however is: Should we only show love and affection to our partners, spouses, lovers or better half’s only on Valentine’s Day? Should we not live every single day as if it were Valentine’s Day? What is so special about this day that makes people go out of their way and do crazy things?
People have different ways of showing love and every couple has its own unique love language. What I consider to be an act of love may be frowned upon by another person. To others, buying of gifts is not considered an act of love but their availability for important family gatherings like dinner.
To others, availability is not considered an act of love but ensuring that the house has all the necessary provisions. Whatever your love language is, you need to show this to your spouse on a daily basis. The love language must also be acceptable and understood by your partner because you can be doing things with the understanding that you are showing love when this has not been clearly understood by the other party.
Buying or receiving gifts on Valentine’s Day is admirable and must be commended but it is not in itself a proof of real love. People do all these things and even go to the extent of buying the most expensive vehicles for their ‘loved ones’, but these may not stem from a place of love.
All days are equal and in essence, when it comes down to it, all we really have is today. So we must strive by all means to live each day with each other as if it were the last one.
If we have this kind of attitude, valentine or no valentines, we will live in love and be at peace with each other. The Bible says in Ephesians 4: 2 that, ‘Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them’.
When trouble comes, we will face it as a united force and there is nothing you cannot accomplish when you approach something with love as your foundation. The Bible in 1 Peter 4:8 says, ‘Above all, love each other deeply, because love, covers over a multitude of sins’.
God expects us to love each other deeply. When you love someone deeply it matters less whether or not they did not get you flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day or whether they did not post you on their Facebook page.
We have no control over how much time we have with each other and, for this reason, we ought to remind ourselves of the relevance each person brings to our lives, the efforts they make and the patience they exercise when dealing with our shortcomings.
For these reasons, therefore, you are expected to show them love every day even if you are not going to say any word. Let the other person feel that you love and care for them. The Contemporary English Bible version says in James 4: 14 that ‘what do you know about tomorrow? How can you be so sure about your life? It is nothing more than mist that appears for only a little while before it disappears’.
Because we do not know what tomorrow brings, it is incumbent upon us to maximise on the present and do things spontaneously.
We celebrate Mother’s Day in October and we call our mums and tell them know how special they are and things like that. Yet we know that we are supposed to make our mothers feel special every day for as long as they live. In the same way, treat this Valentine’s Day as a restart day for you and use it as an opportunity to express your affection to those special people in your lives. Readers, I want you to remember that love, in its purest form, is a gift which is warm, refreshing and wonderful to behold.
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