Published:  12:52 AM, 14 February 2018

Valentine's Day thoughts

Valentine's Day thoughts

"Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone - we find it with another" has aptly been said by Thomas Merton. If we have only one smile in us give it to the people we love. Where there is great love, there are always wishes.14th February is celebrated as the Valentine's Day throughout the world.

That day in which the world celebrates the memory of St Valentine, that day in which Bangladesh's people show the world their bent to accept foreign ideas without reservation and surpass the initiator of such ideas in the execution of same. We have to take our hat offs to people when commemoration allows for frolicking. That is why on every Valentine's Day, something happens that makes the previous year's celebration insignificant. We wish to peacefully celebrate the event for true affection for humanity.

At least from what I have witnessed of St Valentines days in the past one decade. By now, the air would have been filled with promotions of programs targeted at ensuring that men and women have their fill of revelries and are modestly safe at savoring their indulgences. That is a totally new one. I could not resist taking a quick reverie back to my days in the university; I came back with no memory of any elaborate celebration of St Valentine's Day. But things changed progressively. Youths began to get more daring and adventurous towards St Valentine's Day, they organize activities and gain sponsorships from corporates.

To catch the attention of the youth, more and more brands struggle to key in to the Valentine opportunity year in, year out. This is a season that you cannot but notice.I am in envy of couples who go all the way on this day. I have friends who take romantic trips to exotic destinations all over the world, just to be away from the heartbreak that our country has become lately. I know people who make elaborate plans within the country. I no longer have the grace to invest so much energy, resources and time on every 14th February.

Not after the experience I once had when I tried to follow the fad. After about 5 years back, I thought I should go to have a dinner somewhere not too far from us in celebration of the day. My goodness! I got the shock of my life. Vehicular and human traffic to the destination I chose was incredible. I got there at last, only to be turned back because I made no prior bookings.

It was the same situation in another venue nearby. That evening ended up being a very tortuous one for me as I encountered the same horrible traffic on my way home. I got back home from a journey of no accomplishment several hours after I set out totally exasperated. Then, I reached an accord to wit: save myself from this stress in subsequent years and make every waking day Valentine- a celebration of love, in my home. I also agreed not to wait until 14thFebruary to show love to other people.

Anyone who came my way would get a taste of the Almighty's goodness to us in whatever bit we could afford. I still reckon that the stress and inconvenience that attend the celebration of Valentine's Day summarily defies the import of the day. But how many people even bother to find out how the day came about? We are only just taken away by the opportunity to merry and in some instances, we should also shower our love to the loved ones.

Valentine's Day is in memory of a Priest who worked against the decision of the Roman Empire to outlaw marriages among soldiers. This was because Emperor Claudius II, who was fighting many wars, wanted a strong army, but a lot of his men did not want to be soldiers. The Emperor assumed that men refused to join his raids and conquests because they wanted to stay at home to be with their wives and children so he decided to cancel and outlaw all marriages! He reasoned that if men were stopped from getting married, there would be neither woman nor child to distract them from the all-important duty of fighting for the state.

But this Priest felt it was important that men got married. He thought that this would save them from the temptation of living with women without being legally married, a sinful act by his faith. So, he decided to do what he thought was right. He would gather people who were interested in getting married in a secret place, far away from prying soldiers and join them in matrimony. For a while, it was a jolly good ride for him and his accomplices but the day of reckoning came fast. He was soon caught in the act! When Roman soldiers discovered his illegal activities, he was arrested and brought before Emperor Claudius.

The priest made a good impression on the Emperor who thought he was a well-spoken and wise young man. Rather than harm the priest, the big man wanted him to have a rethink about his faith. He encouraged him to stop being a Christian and become a loyal Roman citizen, who would conform to the laws of the land. But the priest swore that he would never deny his belief refusing all entreaties from the Emperor. He even dared to sell his Christian faith to the almighty Emperor!

The audacity infuriated Claudius and he ordered that the priest be sent to prison until he could be executed. Some accounts claim that while he was in prison, the priest performed a miracle by healing Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer, Asterius. The jailer's daughter and his 44-member household were said to have been converted and baptized into Christianity. Before his execution, the priest was also said to have written letters to his close friends coveting their prayers and signing these letter by writing "Remember your Valentine."

This good priest was believed to have been executed on the 14th or the 24th of February in the year 269 A.D or 270 A.D. Some two centuries later, around 498 A.D, Pope Gelasius declared 14th February as a church sanctioned holiday in honor of a man who was martyred for the protection of the sanctity of holy matrimony. It is an irony that this is the same institution that we go the extra effort to put in jeopardy while commemorating the priest's memory!

So what to do on Valentine's Day? Spare a thought for someone; find time to pray that we will continue to understand the importance of happy, peaceful family units to the overall welfare of our society and our world; make those with whom God has blessed you happy and say a prayer that every soul in need finds someone to love. That is the real spirit of lovers' day, it is the thing that our world gravely needs.

It is a day to remind humanity of love, which we may describe as "a very basic human value needed to maintain peace and harmony." We think that love is something that should be celebrated every day. We don't have to wait for 14th February to show that we love and care, we may argue. But love is something that should be demonstrated in our everyday words and actions. We don't believe in making Valentine's such a big deal because in the world of love, every day is, or at least should be special.

However, Valentine's Day being about love, I always celebrate it every day. Valentine's Day just reminds me of the love that I owe my partner. It reminds me of the true love that I have shared with my close friends. To me it is a symbol of love, a reminder to keep the flame of love burning.


The writer is a commentator and an author

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