Let me be my own Valentine
For many in the modern society, Valentine's Day has turned out to be an occasion filled with an impressive series of events, especially for the teenage crowd. 14 of February becomes a day filled with fun, for all those who have received a Valentine's Day card, an invitation for a party or dance, or even for those eligible bachelors and damsels, who are disappointed at the distinct lack of a marriage proposal.
American evangelist, Henry Ward Beecher, achieved worldwide fame on theology emphasizing on God's love as being above all else. He was also well known as a social reformer, speaker, and an author, who had published 270 books on good reads, with 633 ratings. Dozens of his rare quotes that appear on the Internet include meaningful versions such as, "it's easier to go down a hill than up, but the view is much better at the top". When Henry Ward Beecher scribbled two sentences viz: "Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable," he would never envisioned that his above mentioned quote would become world famous one day, and slot into a specific day on the 14 of February, to be characteristically named as the Valentine Day!
Day of Cupid
Over the centuries, mainly dedicated lovers celebrated Valentine Day. Currently, this day is regarded as the day of the Cupid, the child-like winged deity, the son of Venus, the Roman Goddess of love, and connected with the conjoint exchange of 'love notes 'in the form of greeting cards, red roses and the red coloured heart-shaped contour with Cupid's figure, a single rose, candlelit dinners and dancing in star class hotels, and exchanging overpriced trinkets, as tokens of undying love.
In such a backdrop, it would be more problematic for someone who is not so obsessed with such a thing called 'undying love, but love in true sense is the sensation that cannot be explained or examined under a microscope, even if one attempts to use one's talents and the charm, by spending hours pondering over the philosophical nature of this magic human reaction, because it is an internal feeling in every individual's experience; and there are many ways of showing its uniqueness.
Valentine Day has its own share of differences and opinions like in any other issue. Some believe that it has originated from St. Valentine, the Roman who martyred for refusing to give up Christianity and died on 14 February 269 AD. There are others who call it the day dedicated to 'love lotteries'; still there are some who assert it as the day when St. Valentine left a farewell note to his girl friend, a daughter of a Jailer, by autographing the words 'from your Valentine.' It is believed that St. Valentine, serving as a priest at the temple during Emperor Claudius's reign, was jailed for defying the Pope Gelasius, the third, and the last Bishop of Rome (492-496) in the Catholic Church.
Charles, Duke of Orleans, wrote the oldest poem on a Valentine greeting card to his wife, while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, which is found in the British Library London as part of the manuscript collection. Several years later, King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a Valentine message to Catherine of Valois.
British began to celebrate the Valentine's Day from around 17th Century. By the middle of the 18th Century, it became common for friends and lovers in all-social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century, and with the advancement of printing technology, printed cards replaced original handwritten letters, which once directed one's feelings and emotions.
Like any other popular themes as Birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, the Valentine Day too has become a mega commercial hysteria throughout the cities in the world, and over and one billion valentine cards change hands on a single day, making just the perfect excuse for lots of people to spend money on behalf of their love and loved ones. In the meanwhile the greeting cards make the stationery manufacturers, sellers and the postal service's richer.
Human beings, whom they are, filled with emotions, enjoy an overdose of sycophancy from time to time, and indulge in mythical daydreams! One may try to be jolly on this special day being showered with romantic cards, bouquets of red roses, a single rose, boxes of chocolate, with writings on them such as "All because the lady loves.....". Some become lavish and spend a fortune on eating out at star hotels, and getting drunk like fish, with 'gal', 'pol', wine, or whiskey. For a different kind of valentine, it could yet be another occasion to hit a dance floor and enjoy a bit of pelvic thrust in romantic dim lights calling it as what the cupid ordered!
But let's face it. If one is forced to rely on a single day of the year to feel that 'love is in the air' and 'happy ever after,' you could be looking only at the horizon. Haven't we all heard the idiom, 'to love another, one has to love oneself'? In such a hypothesis, I would like to offer a little bit of love, in an unexpected direction this year, by sending a valentine card to my own address with a simple sentence,' Be my Valentine'!
Ceylon Today Feature on 10th February 2018