Understanding essence of celebrating Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day has become a global celebration when people show affection for one another by sending messages of love, cards, flowers or even chocolates to express their feelings of loves particularly to their spouse.

According to historical record, the day got its name from a famous Saint Valentine who lived in Rome in the third Century AD. Although there records varied about St Valentine, but the fact remains that he was a Catholic priest, who disobeyed Emperor Claudus’s II ban on young men in Rome from  getting married would as he believed that marriage will not make them good soldiers.

Valentine felt the order was unfair and cruel, so he broke the rules and arranged for a marriage in secret. Emperor Claudus discovered Valentine’s secret marriage, jailed Valentine and sentenced him to death for disregarding his order. Even in the jail Valentine fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and when he was to be executed on February 14, 270, he sent a love letter, expressing his undying love and ended the letter with a signature, Your Valentine.

Record showed that it was not until 200 years that St. Valentine was executed that February 14 was proclaimed St. Valentine’s Day. By this time, Rome had become Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to stamp out any trait of paganism. A pagan fertility ritual was held in February each year and the Pope abolished this festival and proclaimed February 14 as Saint Valentine’s Day, thus establishing this feast day on the Catholic Calendar of Saints.

To immortalise St. Valentine that was gruesomely killed by Emperor Claudus in 270, the church, therefore turned the festival into a Christian based celebration.  and also to remember St. Valentine’s too. Today, people all over the world are using St. Valentine name as symbol of expressing their feeling of love; the younger ones should be more careful so as not assume that the day is meant for immoralities and illegal love affection among people.

Though the practice of sending love messages special cards expressing their affection developed among people and was given different meanings. Cards would usually contain sentimental words, proclaiming the beauty of the receiver and how much they were loved. The main objective of the day that some people in Africa tagged as festival of love should be redefined to remember someone so dear to us, to honour someone who has contributed immensely to our success story in life and also promote virtue of true love that was central message sent by Valentine even at point of death. But regrettably, many young ones have misconstrued the occasion to mean something else today.

It is ideal to show love and share gifts during Valentine’s Day because it is a season of absolute commitment to a profitable goal as well as showing kindness to someone we truly love and care for. What matters in this celebration is the goodwill we show to others, our kindness to impact positively on others and create good relationship. However, recent happenings in the world indicate that the original ethos of Valentine celebration has been bastardized. The sanctity of the event has been reduced to a mere festivity of immoral pleasure.   The debasement of virtue of love has been heightened to an ignoble proportion.


Momodu Kazeem,

Ogun State.

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