Come February and you will come across advertisements that say: “Show your loved one how much you really love them,” by a jewellery brand; another advertisement says, “10 creative gifting ideas to gift your Valentine”. Society shapes the day in accordance with their perceptions and ideologies. Valentine’s Day for some may be a way to promote an overly commercial date. The sole objective of those advertisements is to generate business and to lure naïve minds into buying commercial products like cards, gifts, getaways and even flowers to gift their better halves. To others, it’s the most romantic day of the year as they are the recipients of those lovely gifts. Their loved ones have not only gone out of their way, but have also emptied their pocket money or have created a dent in their salaries to affirm their love to their other half! For a few others, this day could be a disappointment, because their expectations of witnessing grand gestures of love from their loved ones have not met their expectations. And a few others believe that love is an important element of life. They believe that love should be a feeling that should be confessed to their loved one each day, all throughout the year through selfless acts of kindness, care and understanding towards the one they love.
Let’s learn how the day came into being.
Fact 1: The history of the date is ambiguous in nature and clouded by various fanciful legends.
Fact 2: Many scholars believe that the Valentine’s Day is named in honour of St Valentine of Rome. A popular hagiographical account of the St Valentine indicated that he was martyred by Emperor Claudius II. The Roman Emperor believed that single men made better soldiers than men who were married and had families, eventually outlawing the act of marriage for soldiers. St Valentine realized the injustice of the decree and defied Emperor Claudius. St Valentine was imprisoned for secretly performing wedding ceremonies for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
Fact 3: It was not until the 14th century that Valentine’s Day became synonymous with love. According to medieval scholar, Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was poet Geoffrey Chaucer who first linked St Valentine’s Day to love and romance. In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honour of the engagement between England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. As was the poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day. In The Parliament of Fowls, the royal engagement, the mating season of birds and St Valentine’s Day are linked:
“For this was on St Valentine’s Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”
Fact 4: By the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging of handmade cards made of lace, ribbons, cupids had become a norm in England and the tradition had also spread to the American colonies.
Fact 5: In recent times, the celebration of Valentine’s Day has been becoming a flourishing commercial business. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of the cards sent each year are on Valentine’s Day. The price of a single rose on any other normal day could be Rs 15-20, but on Valentine’s Day a single rose could be sold for between anything from Rs 50-70.
Common dilemmas while celebrating Valentine’s Day
1. Trying to impress
It is alarming that so many young teens and adults increasingly try to establish a fake identity for themselves. In their quest to impress the opposite gender or make friends, they try to emulate ideologies and lifestyles that have no resemblance to who they really are. Being compulsively active on social media platforms, smoking to portray a cool look, shopping for the latest and expensive gadgets to impress others, purchasing clothes that are not just expensive and branded but are also beyond what your pocket money or salary can afford, gifting expensive gifts that may pinch your budget, and in general, trying to portray an image of who may not be the real “you”, all make the best ingredients that would create a recipe called “disaster”.