As men of ‘search and research’ keep increasing in their numbers, old discoveries are being updated and new ones are being born. The issue of Valentine’s Day: February 14th has not been left out. All over the world especially this period, series of debates are ongoing as to whether February 14th is worth to be celebrated by Christians. As realistic as we are seeing, the question of Valentine’s Day seems unanswered.
In this work, I try to flash a light on our knowledge about this matter; ‘IS VALENTINE’S DAY WORTH A FESTIVAL FOR CHRISTIANS?’
First, let us see a brief history of Valentine’s Day. In the early centuries, war took the place of education in this century. Great territories were coined from wars, men of war were worshiped as gods, and sovereignty was a medal for warriors. The greatest kingdom was the one with the greatest soldiers, thus, children hurry to become young men in order to join the army. In the 3rd century, Rome was ruled by an emperor named Claudius II. He was a brave man and a lover of victory. What he hated most was to lose a battle, but contradictory as it was, young men of his days were not battle zealous but love freaks. They’d never want to join the army, instead, they’d be found in the street making love with young girls. Those that were already in the camp were not focused for the feelings of their loved ones. This made Claudius II to enact a decree that; ‘young men should not be allowed to marry, instead they all should join the army and at full age, they can then marry’. It was at this time a certain man named Valentine lived. He was a weakly, a love freak, and a man who would never want to hear the blood-thirsty-songs of swords instead, whispers of love and blue-sounds of kisses. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. As a priest he was, he went on teaching and encouraging the young men to fall in love and get married. Not minding the death penalty that was shadowing Claudius II’s decree, he secretly was performing marriage ceremonies for them. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14th 269 A.D. And after his death, he was named a saint.
Secondly, let us see why they celebrate February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day. Long even before the birth of Saint Valentine, there was this festival in Rome called; Lupercalia in honor of the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. This festival often has 15th of February as its date. After Claudius II’s death, young men were then at liberty to marry at any age. Scholars have it that majority of the people never liked Claudius II’s decree so also his successors, but who contended with him? Saint Valentine! One of the things they did in order to commemorate over Valentine’s effort was to shift the date of their festival (Lupercalia) from 15th to 14th which was Saint Valentine’s death date. The festival was no longer called Lupercalia but Saint Valentine’s Day.
Thirdly, February 14th is a festive day in Rome. A festival in honour of Roman gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, and also the love contender Saint Valentine. These three celebrations have been knitted to one, thus, celebrating either of them means celebrating all. The celebration of St. Valentine’s Day did not have any
romantic love connection, it was a pure festival – often sacrifices were made with goat and dogs, rituals were performed, etc. It was later in the 14th Century that Geoffery Chaucer ( a poet) included in one of his notes that ‘this is a day where love cards are exchanged’ prior to what Saint Valentine did a night before he was executed. Since the 19th century, handwritten notes have given to mass-produced greeting cards. In the second half of the 20th century the practice of exchanging cards was extended to all manners of gifts such as roses, chocolates packed in a red satin, heart shaped box. Even diamond and jewelry came to be included.
Lastly as I conclude, all unusual works done on February 14th are either direct or indirect participation of Roman festival formerly called ‘Lupercalia’ now modified to ‘St. Valentine’s Day’. As Christians we are, let us remind ourselves of the scriptures in Exodus 20, how that Jehovah our God is not idolatry friendly.
At this point, I’ll leave you to decide for yourself, if FEBRUARY 14th has anything special to add to our lives and worth a celebration or more a festival?.
The African Child