Valentine’s Day – The Origins

On a calendar of many, the 14th of February is bubbled in with heart shaped markings for those drowning in love or for others loathing in jealousy by symbols of abomination and rage (yes such people exist too and live amongst the ordinary). Some people acknowledge this day as SAD (Single Awareness Day) and abstain themselves from the festivities of love and the boiling romance which subtly hangs heavily in the air. These “singletons” find the on-goings as aberrant and abscond to their desolate abode and wait for Cupid’s charge to abate. Abject and abashed, they immobilize the buttons of their TV remote by endlessly flipping through the mundane channels broadcasting what appears to be a barrage of movies and soap operas one after the other puppeteered by none other than Cupid himself, or by trying to soothe their unnerved senses abetted by the radio, but find their frustration relentlessly unwilling to cease. Time aggravates the individual into a two coloured dimension lined with red and pink and an “I hate Valentine’s Day” dinner beckons the lonely and lied to. The day marks the fall of the guillotine and abnegation by those unable to sway to the inevitable. Deranged or bound by the broken chains of a relationship (their hearts scarred and brutally wounded for what seems to be eternity) this day prospers into a rebellion where Cupid or heart shaped piñatas take the forefront and everybody displays their maturity and chutzpah by beating a candy-filled papier-mâché container with a wooden stick. Yep – that’s it, really mature.

But Valentine’s Day is not about bemused individuals transpiring against those head-over-heels, it isn’t for those who abnegate what they choose not to accept, and it certainly isn’t for those who want to give Cupid a taste of his own heart shaped pointy arrow. To understand the true essence of Valentine’s Day, one must reflect upon the archaic events and redirect their approach to realization with respect to history. The question with flummoxes the masses culminates in a respectful attitude towards the holiday is with respect to the origin of Valentine’s Day.

A plausible idiom provides a stance to this question: “All Roads lead to Rome.”

Yes, one of the most popular myths and perhaps the best known, originated in Rome. Love was believed to be a barrier between one’s capabilities and the desire to prosper. It was thought to devise a barricade between right and wrong. Emperor Claudius II believed in the above preposterous statements and in his arrogance to fortify his military strength, decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. As a result, he outlawed marriage for young men. Not being his first instance of cruelty and unpopular campaign, he had already earned the title of “Claudius the Cruel” by the citizens of Rome (hmmm, maybe “Claudius the Cute” by his love – who knows?!). Rules are meant to be broken, we all can agree with that but rule breakers punished to death? These were tyrannical eras of our history and hence, it was meant to be so for the messianic Saint Valentine. It is believed that in the year of 269 A.D., Saint Valentine (hero as Comic Book buffs might acknowledge him) and his dear friend Saint Marius (his trusty, loyal sidekick) decided to be the messiahs of Rome and secretly wed young lovers in secret (they didn’t marry them but got them married – you know what I mean). However, every superhero has an arch enemy, our trusty Saints had Claudius the Cruel. I would love to say that they somehow acquired magical superhero powers and whacked the crap out of our dictator villain (sorry, got a bit carried away there :P ); however, this story takes a tragic turn and plummets to the prison cells in the rat laden dungeons of Rome where Saint Valentine was bound to. Claudius the Cruel had ears all over the city (metaphorically please) and upon discovering of the actions of Saint Valentine, he imprisoned him and sentenced him to death. Love conquers all, and Saint Valentine was no exception. While in prison, he fell in love with a young girl, the jailer’s daughter. She provided him with company and moral support during the confinement of our hero; however, the story doesn’t end happily ever after. His execution could not be held in abeyance in the shadow of Claudius’ tyranny. It so happened that on the 14th day of February, a letter addressed to the girl arrived at her doorsteps, signed

“From your Valentine.”

The story ends on a sad note. Our hero succumbed to the rule of a tyrant; however, the love lived on. In memory of the valiant feats accomplished by Saint Valentine in honour of society and the youth, Pope Gelasius set aside the 14th day of the second month dedicated to our hero in the year 496 A.D. It is this aspect that we acknowledge and cherish on the stipulated day. It is this love that we hold dear and hope that our lives will also blossom with love of the joy and purity as was with Saint Valentine.

Hence we celebrate Valentine’s Day by acknowledging the love we have for others by celebrating the achievements of Saint Valentine.

Submitted by Vitul

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