Relevance Of Valentine Day Celebration

INCIDENTALLY, February 14, 2015, which happens to be the date scheduled for our presidential election, also falls on Valentine Day. However, unlike previous celebrations, which sometimes went out of hand, this year’s edition would be low-keyed because of the election. On that day, rather than witnessing a large turnout of people at fun centres and relaxation spots, as is usually the case in many parts of Lagos, people would be expected to queue at polling stations and cast their votes.

  Valentine’s Day or the feast of Saint Valentine is observed on February 14 each year. It is celebrated in many countries around the world, although it remains a working day in most of them. St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned and tortured for performing marriage ceremonies against command of Emperor Claudius the second. There are legends surrounding Valentine’s actions while in prison.

  One of the men, who were to judge him in line with the Roman law at the time, was a man called Asterius, whose daughter was blind. He was supposed to have prayed with and healed the young girl with such astonishing effect that Asterius himself became a Christian as a result.

  In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three-part execution of beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. The story goes that the last words he wrote were in a note to Asterius’ daughter. He inspired today’s romantic missives by signing it, “from your Valentine” for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.  Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers.

 In the secular world, Valentine day is associated with romantic love. In the 18th century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering, confectionary and sending greeting cards. These days, unfortunately, valentine day has been turned to a moneymaking celebration with those in the entertainment and sundry businesses smiling all the way to the bank.

  The true essence of Valentine Day is true love. It is supposed to be a day when lovers and married couples reaffirm their love and genuine affection for one another. It is not only for married couples though, as singles also partake in the celebration by spreading what is called agape love. Interestingly, every year in the Archdiocese of Lagos, a day is set aside (this year’s is Saturday February 7) when the Archbishop meets with the faithful (both singles and married) to share with them the joy of true Valentine. 

  Valentine day should teach us about sacrifice. Like the first Valentine did by laying down his life so that couples may be united, and as Christ did by laying down His life for us to gain salvation, we must be ready to make meaningful sacrifices in life. 

Very Rev. Msgr. Osu, Director, Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos.

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