By: Barnali Bose, Editor- ICN World
KOLKATA : The youth of today celebrate February 14 as the day of love. Those blessed with partners reinforce their love by giving gifts and spelling vows of everlasting love. New relationships commence with proposals of love made on this special day and gifts are showered on new- found love. Men offer red roses to their beloved when Cupid’s arrow strikes infusing them with the sweet nectar of love.
In Classic mythology, Cupid is the son of the Roman Goddess of love, Venus. He has white wings and is armed with a golden bow and arrows, signifying passionate love and intense desire. No one is immune to his arrows, so when struck, one is said to fall deeply in love.
The concept of Valentine Day as a symbol of glorification of love is a rather recent phenomenon. One hadn’t even remotely heard of Valentine’s Day until a few years back. With increased commercialism, this particular day has received an importance, perhaps surpassed by none else.
How this particular day came to be earmarked as Valentine’s Day is worth dwelling upon. Although this day is considered a celebration now, it is noteworthy that around the year 278 A.D, St. Valentine, a Roman priest was executed on the orders of Emperor Claudius on the same date.
During the rule of Claudius, Rome was incessantly involved in battles. The war-loving king believed that his subjects were hesitant to join the army leaving their wives and families behind. He therefore proclaimed a ban on engagements and weddings.
Valentine defied the decree and continued to get young lovers married in utmost secrecy. Claudius was infuriated when apprised of the matter. Not only was Valentine severely beaten, but he was beheaded on 14th February, in about 270 A.D. Legend says that he had developed a fondness for the jailer’s daughter to whom he wrote a letter signing it off as “From your Valentine.”
Legends about how Valentine became synonymous with romance and love are many. The date coincides with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love which could explain why the nomenclature of Valentine’s Day came to be associated with this date.
It was an occasion when young men and women were romantically paired up, based on lots drawn. In 496 A.D, Pope Gelasius declared the day as Valentine’s Day. The Catholic Encyclopedia cites instances of three different martyrs of the same name.
Without venturing to decipher who the day actually commemorates, it would be better to consider it a glorification of love, love in all aspects and love for all fellow beings beyond the constraints of race, caste, creed, region and religion. As long as love rules the roost and hate seemingly fades into oblivion, Valentine’s Day will continue to add that much-needed sparkle into our lives.