It’s Valentine’s day and I just realized that I don’t really know how Valentine’s day came to be. I have this very vague memory though of a saint called Saint Valentine discussed by my teacher when I was in grade school. But even the reason of why he became a saint is blurred to me. That’s why I decided to google a few things and, viola! This post was born.
Accroding to Mister Wiki, Valentine’s day also known as The Feast of St. Valentine began as a celebration of an early Christian saint called Valentinus. Further on Google though, it showed that there were three Valentine in the Roman Catholic history associated with the 14th of February. The famous among of which was the Saint Valentine who defied Emperor Claudius. Emperor Claudius outlawed marriage for young men because he believed that unmarried men make better soldiers. Saint Valentine however continued performing weddings for the soldiers that were forbidden to marry and was imprisoned for it. According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius and wrote a letter to her before his death with a farewell signature that said; “from your Valentine”.
Tradition of romatic love on v-day however didn’t become popular until the High Middle Ages. In the 14th century England and France, it was believed that birds paired off to mate on February 14. Thus, Geoffrey Chaucer’s Parliament of Fowls was believed to be the first Valentine’s poem. It was this time that the idea of expressing love though flowers and gift giving flourished.
Looking down at history, there are also a lot of historical event that occurred on February the 14th. A few of them are as follows:
The crowning of Henry of Bavaria king of Germany as a holy emperor in 1014; whereas King Henry IV a holy roman emperor was excommunicated by Pope Gregory VII in 1076. It was in February the 14th of 1778 that US flag was first formally recognized by a foreign
naval vessel when French admiral Toussaint-Guillame Picquet de la Motte performed a 9 gun salute to USS Ranger.
In 1779 the Battle of the Creek, an American Revolutionary war was fought in Georgia. In 1859, Oregon was admitted as 33rd US State. The first voting machines was approved to be use in election by the u.S. Congress in 1899. The Second Boer war in South Africa started on the 14th of February 1924. League of Women Voters was founded in Chicago during 1920. In 1924, The Computing-Tabulating Recording Company change it’s name to International Business Machines (IBM). 1929, A valentine’s massacre killing seven people, six of which was gangster rivals of Al Capone’s gang happened in Chicago, Illinois.
In 1942, the battle if Pair Panjang contributed to the fall of Singapore. In 1943, Russia was liberated from the World War II: Rostovon-Don. 2002, Budapest Open Access Initiative, one of the cornerstones of Open Access movement was made public. In 2005,Lebanese self-made billionaire Rafik Hariri was killed along with 21 others when an explosive was detonated in St. George Hotel in Beirut. In the same year, seven people were killed and 151 others were injured in a series of bombings by suspected militant groups in the Philippines which occurred in Makati Financial District, Davao City and General Santos City. In the year February 14, 2008, a gun-man open-fired at a lecture hall in Northern Illinois University. This resulted to six fatalities and 18 injuries, including the gun man.
There are even more war and killing records in history that I didn’t include all of which happened on what we sometimes call “heart’s day”. It kind of makes me think that you need a disaster for history to remember you. Probably, it’s because this kind of events leave deeper scars.
Valentine’s day isn’t all that too as it is viewed differently by different cultures. Let’s take Japan for example. For the Japanese, it is the day for women to give chocolates or gifts to men. I think it is a good chance where women can express their feelings first without the people around taking it against them for making the first move. However, it is also common for women to give chocolates to men they don’t actually “love” such as co-workers and friends. These kinds of chocolates are called obligatory chocolates or “giri-choco” which is mainly given out of gratitude or obligations. Men who receive chocolates on Valentine’s day are suppose to give the women something back on White Day which occurs on March the 14th. White day gifts varies but are mostly sweets and or something white. Many men however, usually only gift their girlfriends.
In China, Valentine’s day is held on the 7th month and 7th day of the Lunar calendar. It is to celebrate the love story between the seventh daughter of the Emperor of Heaven and an orphaned cowherd, who were sent to separate stars and only allowed to see each other on this one day each year. It is also called, the Daughter’s Festival or QIXI festival which will be celebrated on the 13th of August this year.
In India and most middle east and Muslim country, this is not encourage to be celebrated as it originally started from a Christian and western belief.
In our country, and most western country, Valentine ’s Day is about men being romantic on their love ones through gift, flowers and chocolates. Honestly, I used to think that Valentine’s day is nothing but an over-rated tradition. For me, when you love someone, it doesn’t need a special day to show them they are special. But since last year, I think that it wasn’t so bad after all. And no, not’s not because of me joining the tradition but because of the things that I have observed.
It is said that men are real bad in expressing their emotions. But last year, as I make my way to the office, I noticed that it is not so on Valentine’s day. And so I thought, if it takes men a “Valentine’s day” to freely express their feelings without feeling awkward then I guess it’s not so bad.
I still remember last year when the same day was around. (I was actually supposed to write this after that day but totally got busy). It was extra difficult to get a ride going to the office. There were many commuters but very few jeepnies and taxis were around. I got pushed a lot before I was able to get in one. Along the journey, a couple was sitting right in front of me. They were probably around late 20’s or early 30s. They are probably married too. I think they came from a date as both of them were dressed up pretty well. The lady was holding a bouquet while the guy had a pink paper bag in his hand which I am guess contained his gift for her.
For some reason, this two caught my attention. As the lady fell asleep, I can’t take my eyes off them as the guy carefully leaned the girl’s back on him and kissed her on the forehead. I don’t know how to describe it but you can clearly see even with just a glance that the guy loves her very much. I think it’s true that true love do emit a kind of aura. Everything he does for the woman, even his smallest action for her was clearly done with love. For someone who does not really believe that forever exist, I was touched watching them and can’t help but smile. It was such a wonderful view.
It made me think that yes, Valentine’s Day isn’t so bad after all. In addition to that, the news was filled with exceptional stories about love. I think that if even for just a day, or a moment all of us would be filled with thoughts of love, then it’s nice to commemorate Valentine. I could take the cheesiness, (after all I love cheese), if it meant that the news and even what surrounds us will be filled with love.
I know that sometimes, we are just compelled to do something because it is what around us dictates us to. We may not be romantic or very nice or even loving by nature but if for the sake of the so-called valentine’s day we could take a pause from the bad and be good and loving, then I don’t mind. Having a moment of peace is definitely never a bad thing.
And seeing something wonderful and sweet that particular day made me realized that heroes do exist and not just in books. That there are real prince charming. I wasn’t even envious, instead I was happy. Somehow it made me believe again that fairy tales are not just tales and happy endings are still out there. And that even if the world is so bad, it’s also true that people are really good at heart.