Dr Md. Matiur Rahman Khan
14 February is the Valentine’s Day. Young people especially male and female lovers eagerly wait for the day to come. The day is like an annual festival and people celebrate romantic love, friendship and express deep admiration on the day. This day revives and rouses love in human mind and dispels all hatred, malice, doubt and conflict from our mind by sending messages of love and liking to our beloveds, sweethearts and relatives. This day reminds us that love is eternal and unending. It comes from heaven and human beings are naturally bound by love from time immemorial. People with love and adoration recall St Valentine who sacrificed his life as a real-life example of love.
People all over the world welcome and mark the day by sending missives of love and affection to their partners, families, friends and colleagues in memory of St Valentine. Couples, to honour their love for each other send cards, flowers, spend time together, remember and mull over the sayings: ‘Where there is love there is life’-- Mahatma Gandhi, ‘Where love is, there is God also.’—Leo Tolstoy, Love is blind; friendship closes it eyes.’ --- Proverb.
Origin of Valentine’s Day: The Valentine’s Day is a memory-laden event, which has both pain and pleasure. The event is painful because Valentine sacrificed his life for love, and it is pleasant because the day has been named after Valentine and people of the world observe the day to commemorate St. Valentine. According to the legend, there lived a Catholic priest in Rome in the 3rd century. His name was St. Valentine. He was a priest and physician in Rome. However, at his time, Claudius was a pagan emperor of Rome. During Valentine’s life, many Romans were converted to Christianity. As Claudius was a pagan, he did not like conversion of Romans to Christianity. Moreover, during the period of the Roman Emperor Claudius II in AD 200’s the Roman empires were at bloody wars. No young people liked to go to war under the cruel pagan emperor. After investigation, the emperor found that the married people both Christians and pagans are unwilling to join the wars because of the love for their wives. In addition, he found it out that a single young man could be made a better soldier. Therefore, he passed orders to stop marriage of the young people and to stop converting Roman pagans to Christianity. However, during his period St. Valentine, a Catholic priest and physician was found to be engaged secretly in converting pagans to Christianity and arranging marriage of the young soldiers in Rome in violation of the order of the emperor. For this act of violation of the order Valentine was arrested, put in jail, tried, found guilty and was sentenced to death. His death sentence was executed on 14 February. However, during his life in jail as a prisoner, Valentine cured some of his fellow prisoners and the blind daughter of his jailor. Valentine treated the girl and the girl got back her sight. The girl expressed her deep gratitude to Valentine and fell in deep love with him. Valentine also fell in love with the girl. But unfortunately this love did not continue long and the girl could not save the life of her lover Valentine from death. However, Valentine before the execution of his death was able to write a love message signed, “From your Valentine.” Thereafter, Valentine was executed on 14 February in the year 270.
How Valentine’s Day was named: After more than about 200 years later from the date of execution of the death of St Valentine, Pope Gelasius in AD 496 proclaimed and named 14 February as the St. Valentine’s Day. Thus, the name St. Valentine Day came into being. By this time Rome gradually became Christian and the Catholic Church was determined to eradicate any paganism from Rome.
St.Valentine linked with Romanticism: The English poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the Middle Ages was the first poet to link St. Valentine with romantic love. This was the beginning of the courtly love, a ritual of expressing love and admiration, usually in secret. This customs propagated thought Europe and stories grew about a High Court of love where female judges would rule on issues related to love on 14 February each year. Historians believe that these meetings were in fact gatherings where people red love poetry.
Valentine’s Day Symbols: The practice of sending love message developed into people who began sending special cards expressing their affection. These cards were beautiful creations handmade by the senders and individually designed to show how much they loved the recipients. Cards contained sentimental verses, proclaiming the beauty of the receivers. The cards were with pictures of cupid, hearts and flowers and trimmed with lace and ribbon.
Valentine Day in contemporary times: Valentine Day is celebrated in most of the countries in the world. However, different countries have developed their own traditions for celebrating the festival. Some traditions include leaving gifts for children and some others include acts of appreciation between friends. Some observe the day by a gift of flowers or a single red rose sent with romantic message to the dear and near ones and couple spend time together. Many couples choose to celebrate the Valentine’s Day with dinner, picnic or special home cooked meal. Many restaurants offer Valentine’s Day dinner. Some indulge in luxury hotel stay in a beautiful location, allowing a couple to get away from it and enjoy some quality time together. Valentine’s Day is romantic and memorable.
Valentine’s Day in Bangladesh: In Bangladesh, the day is observed and celebrated a bit differently. In Bangladesh, the day is not limited to lovers or couples but it covers parents, bothers and sisters, friends, relatives and even non-relatives. Bangladeshi people enjoy the day with all members of the family together.
Media can play a good role for the publicity, introduction and expansion of Valentine’s Day in our country and can create a favorable environment to strengthen love among all creatures. Media can present good and love stories, comical episodes for the readers to attract them to know the significance of the day and can sit together to have a hearty talks, and exchange our views. This will strengthen the relations with each other and one another.
We may buy tokens of love for our dear and near ones. We may send messages to them; we may talk to them over telephone. Thus, we can quicken love and can make up any difference if we have any.
Actually, love is sacred and holy. The feelings of love is also holy. We should treat love and affection with due honour. The genuine love can be felt by heart and mind, but not by physical touch. If illegitimate relations get into love, holy love loses its purity and sanctity. Love is the sweetest relation only when there lies no question of interest, but lies only attachment and affection. Valentine’s Day brings us the opportunity to love the whole world. There is no limit to it or any restrictions on it. Let us fill the world with our deep love and make the world a peaceful one.
The writer is a former Joint Secretary to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and regular contributor to Bangladesh Post.