THE month of February is associated with love because Valentine’s Day which is widely acknowledged around the globe as Lover’s Day is celebrated on the 14th day of February yearly. Prior to the day’s celebration, lovers, friends, colleagues and family members expect to show special love to each other and also expect the love to be reciprocated in varying degrees. At this period, the atmosphere is filled with love.
Over the years, varying texts have been written as to the origin of the celebration of Valentine’s Day. On one of the written accounts of the lovers day celebration, the celebration was set aside by Pope Gelasius 1 in AD 496 to commemorate the death of Saint Valentine of Rome, who was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry in order to commit strength and dexterity to battles, and for ministering to Christians persecuted under the Roman empire. While in prison, Saint Valentine restored sight to the daughter of his judge. He also sent her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a parting gift before his death. On another account, the Valentine’s Day have been traced to have begun from the Romans’ celebration called Lupercalia. During this feast, young men were said to draw the names of young ladies from a container. They’d be beau and sweetheart during this period and infrequently, they’d get hitched. This festival was later to be infused into the traditions of the Christian church and also used to celebrate the death of Saint Valentine.
Sentimental love was not to be associated with the feast’s celebration as it is today until the 14th century during the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. Valentine’s Day was a start of the convention of dignified love, a custom of communicating adoration and esteem, more often than not in mystery. These were gatherings where individuals read the love verse and played amusement of tease. Later, in the 18th century, the celebration welcomed some modifications with presentation of flowers and sending greeting cards between lovers as a means to showcase their love.
Just like the rest of the world, the celebration of Valentine’s Day comes with much anticipation in Nigeria. The days before the celebration, one could easily hear phrases such as, “would you be my Val”, “where would you take me to” then, “I would be my own Val” (for persons who are not so lucky in the love tangle) as feelings and expectations are aroused. Individuals also top up the celebration with the organisation of parties, picnics and to some extent, go on vacation. On the D-day, the atmosphere is themed with the colours of red and white(presumed colours of love), with sharing and exchange of gifts, kisses, taking the order of the day. Some persons equally spend their day at charity homes, visitations to the sick and the poor. Later, in the evenings, some persons take their loved ones out on a dinner, while others with their partners could be seen in the cinema seeing a movie or two.
On his views about Valentine’s Day celebration these days, Pastor Paul, a clergy in one of the protestant churches said, “The day commemorates a Christian saint who worked to unite lovers contrary to existing law. It has moved from its religious connotations to a fully secular day dedicated to the idea of loving relationships. Valentine is all about love. Love basically defined as ‘thinking what is best for another person’. Unfortunately, the Valentine’s Day seems to be limited to the eros and philia sect of love. Orgies and revelries define the Valentine’s Day, and that is no way thinking or even doing what’s best for another”.
A young lady who simply identified herself as Adaobi, explained the Valentine’s Day to be a day when love is overtly shown and reciprocated. She went on to say how she would spend the day with her lover, who must come to her, bearing gifts and whom she would reward with her sexual prowess.
To Ifunanya, a student of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Valentine celebration entails visiting her family, hanging out with her friends, enjoying herself with much food and having much fun as she could.
With much love, care and joy that comes with the season of valentine, people see it as a time to amass material gifts and earning sexual gratification. This has led to many broken relationships, increase in crime rate in other to live up to expectations and also rise in individuals living with sexual transmitted diseases (STDs). The urge to measure up during the season of love have also led to both moral and cultural decadence in our society.
Without further ado, it is ideal and germane that we flood the Valentine’s Day with expression of love that exceeds personal satisfaction and pleasure. It is on this ground that we seek what is best for another, that we show love as what it is. The celebration shouldn’t be limited to just our loved ones, it should be extended to the orphans, the poor and the physically challenged, too. Love is also not to be circumscribed to a day’s practice. It is to be part and parcel of every equipped human society, an aura to be diffused to everyone around us on every day’s work. For love knows no bounds, no particular day. Love does not segregate, it brings forth gratuity to the heart and most importantly, love in its purest form never fails.