Every year on 14 February, chocolates, flowers, gifts and cards are exchanged between loved ones around the world, all in the name of St. Valentine. But do any of us even know who St. Valentine is anymore or have we just got caught up in another 21st Century ‘Hallmark holiday’?
The legend of St. Valentine is, to this day, surrounded in mystery and there remain at least three different accounts dating back to the third century, of individuals with the same name. One of these legends is that of Bishop Valentine. After being jailed for holding illegal marriage ceremonies despite the Emperor's law that no Roman soldier could marry, he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and began sending her letters and love notes. On the night of his execution he wrote a farewell letter to her signing it ‘From your Valentine.’ Come on, it doesn’t get more romantic than that, surely?
Since Valentine's death, lovers far and wide have honoured the day and carried on his legacy by sending cards to their loved ones on the date of his death. It’s certainly no secret that the day is laced with history but as with most things in this day and age we seem to have forgotten these true meanings. In fact over the years the holiday has become somewhat ‘generic’ in itself and a lot of people merely see it as an excuse to get presents and, well let’s be honest, brag about how well their significant others did. What was supposed to be a celebration of love and togetherness has simply become another way for our mad capitalist society to cash in and make some money.
St. Valentine’s Day used to involve people sending an anonymous card or two. Then presents got involved. Now trips to Paris, expensive jewellery and lavish gifts seem to have upstaged the modest little love letter so much so, that for some people actually receiving one wouldn’t be enough.
Call me an old romantic but surely we shouldn't need presents and mass produced cards to express such important sentiment to our loved ones. Love should be spontaneous; it shouldn’t be forced because we are being bombarded with reminders and messages everywhere which way we look. We could learn a lot from old fashioned romance values, such as actually spending time letting others know how much they mean to us, not just when we’re reminded, but daily.
I’m not saying don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day at all, now where’s the fun in that? Just that this year, whether you’re in a relationship or you’re single, remember the tradition of the day. Celebrate by sending a simple love letter, cooking a meal at home or best yet, sending something anonymous. Ignore the big, expensive, shiny gestures the shops are screaming about and do it the way it suits you.
We’d love to hear your views on Valentine’s Day. Has it gone a bit mad or does Cupid get you every year?
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