Another Valentine’s Day is here again. Every February 14 has been set aside in many parts of the world as a day to celebrate love and romance.
On this day, the colour that becomes so visible in every direction you turn is red.
Across major cities, eateries, clubhouses, public event centres will be thronged today by people who are celebrating Valentine’s Day. Shows are organised and musicians and other entertainers are invited to thrill the audience.
Red is the colour of the clothes that many, especially youths, usually don on February 14. Gifts are wrapped in red are sent to loved ones. It has been observed over the years that the youths usually go into all sorts of sensual pleasures with the opposite sex, drinking and partying while celebrating Valentine’s Day.
To some, it is Lovers’ Day, even though many have a zero understating of how the day really came about.
Around the world, candies, flowers, greetings’ cards, money and other gifts are exchanged among loved ones, all in the celebration of the Valentine’s Day. Some benefactors also go to the less-privileged homes to show love to the less-unfortunate ones and put smiles on their faces with diverse gifts.
But many posers have been raised on who actually the mysterious Saint Valentinewas and where the traditions came from.
These days, Valentine is no longer just about an idle pastime for philandering young men and women. The day has become rebranded. It has gradually metamorphosed from a mere casual day to become a major event in the calendar year of individuals, pubs, nightclubs, hotels, organisations, schools and churches. As at today, corporate entities, including banks and schools have keyed into the Valentine movement, using the event to drive their businesses.
It is common these days to see different brands placing adverts in the pages of newspapers or buying airtime on television stations, to celebrate Valentine’s Day with their customers. Unarguably, how the special day is celebrated today has been transformed and still evolving. More glitz and glamour are added to it virtually on a yearly basis.
On February 14, 2015, a notable private school on Ago Palace Way, Lagos State, instructed all its students and staffers to put on a touch of red to mark the day. The school’s academic activities were cut short halfway, after which the students and the management of the school filed out to the street to patch a pothole on the major road.
The principal further told the reporter that the school does not joke with Valentine’s Day. She said that it was already included in the school’s calendar to execute one project or the other in a bid to promote humanity. Celebrating Valentine’s Day is not peculiar to this school; many others observe same tradition.
In many churches, the presiding pastors or priests encourage their members to remember others on Valentine’s Day. Some go as far as admonishing the congregation to bring gifts that would be exchanged as symbols of love for one another. And the members religiously obey with a sense of fulfilment.
Some colleagues in offices and business partners also celebrate the day in different ways. Some of them go out in groups for a treat to spend quality time together. They exchange gifts among themselves, no matter how big or small, expensive or cheap.
Couples and people in relationships also seize Valentine’s Day to renew their love and commitment to one another. They buy and exchange gifts. Some prefer to go on a special outing to spend time together that will be remembered for a long time.
Some young men in serious relationships prefer to propose marriage to their fiancées. They believe that since February 14 connotes love, there might not be other suitable days in the year to announce such a surprise package. Apparently, it is a day that many young people look forward to for fun and excitement. Many people also make special budgets that will be expended on that day.
Saint Valentine, according to some sources, is actually two distinct historical characters who were said to have healed a child while imprisoned and executed by decapitation. The history of Valentine’s Day and the story of its patron saint are shrouded in mystery.
One thing is clear: February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as it is known today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?
The Catholic Church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men.
Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Still others insist that it was Saint Valentine of Terni, a bishop, who was the true namesake of the holiday. He, too, was beheaded by Claudius II outside Rome.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl – possibly his jailor’s daughter – who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.
Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize the character as a sympathetic, heroic, and most importantly, romantic figure.
But not everyone considers the Valentine’s Day as special. A lawyer, who is based in Lagos, Mr. Emeka Chinedu told Daily Sun that he doesn’t believe in Valentine. He wondered why there should be one day set aside out of 365 or 366 days for lovers.
He believes that love should be celebrated everyday, and thus, everyday should be a lovers’ day. He asked what happens to other days in the year if a single day is dedicated for love. He said though he would not reject any gift if given by his loved ones, he would not join the crowd to start sending gifts on February 14.
“Love should be celebrated every day,” he contended. “I don’t belong to those who go to town to celebrate February 14 in the name of love. I don’t really understand why people wholeheartedly accept certain things without asking vital questions. You might agree with me that many people don’t know what they are celebrating.
“And you know when things come to Nigeria, people will further give it other meanings. To those who want to continue to celebrate Valentine as lovers’ day, I wish them well. But they should ask themselves what happens the following day? Could it mean that there would no longer be love after February? It looks like a joke to me, though it is already a big event.”
A student of Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, Emmanuella Daniel, told the reporter on the telephone that there was nothing wrong with celebrating Valentine’s Day with family members and friends.
She said: “It is a matter of choice or one’s lifestyle. So long as it is a day to promote love, I see nothing wrong with it. There will be party tomorrow on my campus to celebrate the day. Though I attended that of last year, I won’t be going this year for personal reasons.”
While some people believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial, which probably occurred around A.D. 270, others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s Feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia, celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15.
Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.