Valentine's Day - Moments of Joy
The 14th of February has become significant in the calendar of lovers- a popular date for the celebration of romance world-wide. The date has garnered a lot of reputation for the sending of gifts, cards, dating and in some cases, church services. The feast day which was instituted in honor of two martyred priests- Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni has through the centuries acquired cultural, religious and commercial dimensions, all in celebration of romantic love and now has a worldwide appeal.
The feast day of St. Valentinus dates back to the medieval era. According to the legendary account, St. Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for performing wedding ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden to marry. A secondary allegation was for ministering to Christians who were under Roman persecution. According to J.C. Cooper in his book: The Dictionary of Christianity, St. Valentine was imprisoned for succouring persecuted Christians. But while in jail, awaiting execution, he restored sight to the blind daughter of Asterius, his jailer. He addressed the first "Valentine card" to the girl named Julia. The letter was signed "Your Valentine" as a farewell before his execution. Julia is said to have planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave, which today is a symbol of abiding love and friendship.
However, it is noteworthy that the celebration of St. Valentine's Day did not have the type of romantic connotations that surround it today until the 14th century when Chaucer wrote his poem: Parlement of Foules. This poem, written in honour of King Richard II of England and Anne of Bohemia, in celebration of the 1st anniversary of their engagement, was the spark the St. Valentine flame needed to begin the gradual but steady engulfment of the romantic world. Apart from Chaucer, other authors, including Charles d' Orleans, Margery Brewes and William Shakespeare, all wrote what we can now refer to as Valentine poetry in celebration of romance and love.
Sometime in the 18th century, St. Valentine Day evolved into an occasion during which lovers express their love and affection for each other. On such days, flowers are exchanged by lovers, confectioneries are offered, while special Valentine greeting cards were sent to loved ones. The symbols associated with the feast - doves, heart-shaped outline, the figure of the winged Cupid and St. Valentine keys have increasingly spread the Valentine legend. Though the feast originated from the west, the vogue has continued to spread across the globe. The Anglican Communion and the Lutheran churches now have official Valentine Feast Days.
Love, affection, friendship, and others are all tributaries that flow into the river of joy. The flow of these attributes has enhanced the Valentine season making it another universal season of joy like Christmas, Easter and other feast days in Christendom. Another interesting dimension of this feast day is the ceremonial appeal to the young and the young-hearted. This has furthered its impact in materialistic terms, boosting both the economic and social relevance of the day. Although it is not a public holiday in any country, like Christmas and Easter, it is fast gaining ground and is currently enjoying pride of place as a source of economic activity, not only in the materialistic West but also in other countries where the pervading influence of the West holds sway.
In the United States, for example, a total of 190 million Valentine Day cards are sent yearly, excluding those sent by school children. In monetary terms, totals during the period amounted to about $18.2 billions or $136 per person in the 2017 Valentine season. In 2010 it was only $108 dollars per person. The figures are rising. In the United Kingdom, about 1.3 billion pounds is spent yearly during the season.
The buying and selling of cards, gift items and other forms of tokens and memorabilia have heightened the festive nature of the St. Valentine's Day celebrations. In addition, the increase in the number of visits on Valentine days, to eateries, show houses and other relaxation spots and resorts were marital vows are renewed, marriage and love proposals are made and engagements take place, have turned the Valentine season into a period of joy for an increasing number of the earth's human population. Candlelight dinners, parties (some mild and others wild) walks and sightseeing are now some of the activities that have transformed the Valentine's Day and filled it with moments of joy, and memorable and undiluted pleasure.
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