Commentary: The Origin Of Saint Valentine`s Day

Commentary: The Origin Of Saint Valentine`s Day

Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s Day. Saint Valentine’s Day or the feast of Saint Valentine is observed on February 14 every year and celebrated in many countries around the world.

Saint Valentine’s Day, has vestiges of Christian foundation. It began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian Saints named Valentine.  The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry, as well as ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.

During his imprisonment, he was said to have healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius.  Centuries later, an embellishment was added: before his execution he wrote “from your valentine” as a farewell to her.

Saint Valentine was a Roman who was killed on February 14, 26AD for his faith in God and for refusing to worship pagan gods and so Saint Valentine’s Day is now an international feast, observed by Christians and non-Christians alike.

The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chancer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished.  By the 15th century, it has evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectioneries and sending greeting cards, known as “valentine”.

Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart shaped outline, doves and the figure of the winged cupid.  Since the 19th Century, handwritten valentines have way to mass-produced greeting cards.  In 596 AD, Valentine’s ‘Saint Day’, was established.

Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and most importantly, romantic figure.  For now, what matters most is not the three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14th February, but the underlying issue of peace, progress and stability of Nigeria.

It is true that Nigerian Youths make nonsense of Saint Valentine’s Day by engaging in all sorts of sexual escapades and unnecessary exuberance, the essence of the occasion is no longer being observed.  Considering the various challenges facing Nigeria today, efforts should be made by the citizens to emphasize love for one another.

There is the need now more than ever before for Nigerians to throw overboard those areas of discord that had pitched the various ethnic groups against one another.  One way of throwing the nation’s negative tendencies behind us is for the perpetrators of the series of bombings, sectarian killings, kidnappings and communal clashes to sheath their swords and embrace peace and unity this Saint Valentine’s Day.

We have to resolve to use the Saint Valentine’s Day to do all within our power, to contribute, not only to the growth of the nation and our states, but also for the development of our individual communities.

Saint Valentine was a man of peace and compassion. It will therefore, be counter-productive if the celebration is done in a manner unbecoming of the children of God. Although, it is the traditional day of which lovers express their love for each other, it should also involve giving to the less privileged in the society.

Companies and affluent individuals should pay a visit to correction centres, destitute and motherless babies’ homes to give them valentine treat. Let us therefore reflect along these lines of humanitarianism as the world celebrates Saint Valentines’ day.  Perhaps, the philosophy behind charity and love for his fellow men may likely change the psyche of Nigerians who are still the enemies of the country.  Happy Valentine’s Day.

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