In 8 days from now, it will be February the 14th – Valentines day.
In all honesty, it’s not something I look forward to.
Because it, like every other holiday across the Western world, has become just another commercialised occasion for excessive money spending.
and, it’s the one glorified day of the year when singletons across the world can be legitimately made to feel 2nd rate and unfulfilled, not that we don’t get enough of that for the other days of the year (was going to write how many in hundreds but I can’t remember how many days there are in a year :S )
I can’t figure out how religious people, in particular, have got drawn in to the material splendour of it all. Especially when we think upon what Valentine got his saintliness for…
………. The 3rd century Valentine was a Christian martyr. Other than this, we don’t really know anything about him. There have since been several other ‘Valentines’, some of which the Church has made saints. One myth says that he was a man who preformed marriages for roman soldiers who were not supposed to get married. Another one says that a Valentine healed his jailer’s daughter (after being locked away for marrying soldiers) and then wrote her a nice letter before he was killed. After this, we don’t really hear much about romance untill Chaucer’s 14th century poetry about ‘Valentinus’ love, which was popularised by the 18thc, when lovers began swapping gifts for one-another on Valentine’s feast day. It’ celebrated by both the Roman and the Anglican churches on February 14th, and in July by the Eastern Orthodox Church.
Bearing all of this in mind, one wonders how we have moved from remembering the faithful witness of those who were persecuted for their faith back in C.E 400, and, later, remembering the community love of families and relationships with handmade cards and flowers of the 18thc to mass-produced, highly expensive tack that we feel inclined to give our ‘other halfs’ on one day of the year? Bizarre…
What frustrates me about how narrowly we celebrate St Valentine’s day is how we forget how wonderfully big love is. Ask any person how does one show ‘love’ on Valentine’s day, and they will most likely make the assumption that you are meaning romantic love, as shared by couples/spouses; in the Greek, ‘eros’. This is what we see on the TV when Chocolatiers and confectionaries advertise their products. They market them towards couples, mums, dads, those engaged in romantic relationships, completely hijacking the huge word Love, and using it for their shallow based promotionalism.
When I consider the semi-mythical ideas surrounding the REAL St Valentine, I can observe ‘Love’ in all its fullness, shown not by one person to their partner on one day a year, but as a God, using a man to show his love, and a man showing his love to those in need because he loves his God. What seems to come most strongly for me as the message from St Valentine, is one of readiness to be selfless – to show ‘agape’ love – in response to how Christ has loved us. Early Christian martyrs died out of love for the One who had first loved them, and St Valentine died because, legend has it, he was selflessly helping those who needed him.
Maybe what we should ponder on February 14th this year is not how to artificially accentuate romanticism for our beloved – those we should love and show love to every day of the year, without the aid of expensive truffles, extortinately priced wilting roses or helium heart balloons which are contributing to climate change, but how we can be better people, to those in close connection to us, such as our family, friends and colleagues, and to those who are less fortunate than us. We should use Feb. 14th as a day when we make an extra special effort, as ‘little Christs’ to act like him, loving everyone as He called us to.
Also, we should stop using it as a day to patronise single people! Being single on Valentine’s day allows one not to obsess materially over a romantic partner and what ‘gifts’ (rubbish) to spend your collective hard-earned pennies on, but to socialise with loved ones, show the other kinds of love, and fully appreciate the love that has and is continuously shown to us. Also, the day after = lots of cut-price chocolate =] 😀
So, Children, give your parents choc for loving you, parents, don’t ignore your children (we can feel awfully left out on V. day when your off being all grossly romantic together) give them chocolate too! And everyone, singletons, couples, old and young, think of ‘V’. day as a chance to celebrate and act out love in all its fullness.