You know the way your heart sings when you are in love? The way your feet moves and you don’t feel your legs touching the floor? Yeah… that’s how i feel this Valentine’s Day. Elated and basking in the love of my Bobo! So, bouncing into my apartment with bags of gifts and a huge valentine cake, delightedly, i blew an imaginary kiss to St Valentine for making all these chocolate, flowers and gifts possible. Hurray! It’s Val, I love the attention and oh, I love the gifts. So it was with shock that I reacted to my neighbour’s voice yelling at her husband “I’m not your valentine, i hate this day!”
I stood transfixed, hmm…seems someone is having a bad day, with my many valentine gifts on the floor, i pulled off my stiletto heels, quietly tip-toed to and put my good left ear against the wall closest to my neighbour’s apartment, yours truly heard more and comprehended that the cause of the ruckus was the celebration of love: my usually calm and polite neighbour was angry at being bought valentine gifts! You can imagine my eyes popping out at that realization, is she normal?
“Why wait for a calendar date to bring me roses? She asks. You don’t love me, it’s all a pretence, you use valentine to assuage your guilt and go right back to making me miserable tomorrow! What about the remaining 364 days of the year? I get slaps instead of flowers; i get insults and debasement… You really think these gifts can fix us…” these and many more were the words she kept yelling at him as I began scribbling on my tablet, pondering on the meaning and essence of valentine, definitely, it should be more than the colour “red”, more than heart shaped candies and baby cupid shooting arrows of love at people!
Valentine’s Day is a holiday shrouded in many mysteries. From the legendary tales of a priest in the 3rd century who performed secret marriages when the Roman Emperor Claudius II was against young men getting married, to the tale of three St Valentines belonging to the Catholic church who were all martyred on February 14th, to the celebration feast of the Roman goddess of love, there seems to be endless controversies and uncertainties about the origin of valentine. Other legends cite the fact that February 14th marks the date when birds began mating as the origin of Valentine’s day but irrespective of its origin, history records that by the 18th century, Valentine’s day had been pronounced a holiday and gift-giving with exchange of cards on Valentine’s Day had become common in England, from where it spread to the rest of the world.
Not minding history or religion, Valentine’s Day is celebrated today by lovers, friends and families. It is seen as a day dedicated to giving and has long been associated with love, passion and affection. All manners of gift items are exchanged between lovers and the feeling in the air is always that of love and appreciation of spouses, parents and people in general. Many charity works are also done on this day. In a world dominated by busy, stressed and self centred people, valentine celebration allows for a pause and offers one the chance to be selfless and focus on another human being at least for one out of 365 days.
My neighbour’s rage at being shown love only on Valentine’s Day got me wondering how many people are out there feeling like her. It got me thinking of the things I hate about valentine. It is the commercialisation of the day! I’m irritated by the greeting card companies, the florists, the confectionery industry for their crass exploitation of what should be a natural human emotion. Everyone selling something has something to sell for valentine. Everywhere i turn it’s buy this or that, ‘buy your valentine broom, have you seen this valentine-ish cup? Buy valentine TV and watch love in special effects! Special discount on valentine hair, poke him with love…buy valentine needles! Hey! Let’s hold it a bit. Can’t the poor man celebrate love too?
I hate that some boyfriends will break up with their girlfriends today, I hate that a girl would cry because her friends got valentine cards and cakes but she got none, I hate that a married man would cheat on his wife today at a club, all in the name of having a good time, it’s valentine celebrations and his woman is far from him. I hate that another man will totally forget and will not even kiss his wife today, I hate that some ladies will pick a fight over not getting their expected gift, yet they bought nothing for the man, I hate that some teenagers could be taken advantage of today and bought over by a gift and sweet words…and perhaps the hardest hit by valentine hype are the broken hearts, those who currently have no partners or are still grieving a lost friendship. Valentine leaves holes in the pockets of the gift buyers and leaves holes in the heart of those who get none…valentine sucks!
Some religions and individuals are against the display of affection on a calendar date arguing that love should not be tied to a single day but to everyday living: true, but having a day set apart to celebrate love brings a universal consciousness of others and more good is done towards strengthening relationships. No harm in showing love on a special day, but after taking a reflective look at the meaning of true love compared with all the noise and hype that surrounds valentine, I took the same stand with my neighbour deciding I’ll rather be loved all through the year in little gestures and everyday activities than wait for a single day to get flowers and gifts. Small expressions of love go a long way in a relationship. In a perfect world, there would be no need for a special day to show or celebrate love, every day would be special, everyday would be Valentine’s Day.
It’s your turn, what do you love/hate about valentine?