JUST like December that seems to make everyone "extra" kind and generous because of Christmas, February sets this aura (albeit, sickening) of being romantic. But should it be?
Valentine’s day is named for Valentinus was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. At that time, the emperor thought that he can have better soldiers if they remained single and so outlawed marriage for young men. Valentinus thought the decree was unjust and so performed marriages clandestinely. Eventually, the emperor found out and put Valentinus to death.
However, there are also historical accounts that point to Valentine’s day as a pagan celebration by Roman priests during the ides of February or the days of the full moon.
Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival, was celebrated mid-February and dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture. Goats would be sacrificed and crops and fields would be slapped with goat’s blood in hopes that they would become fertile. In time, women allowed themselves to be slapped with the goat’s blood believing that it would also make them fertile. Soon, Valentine’s day evolved into a match-up or a dating day for the Romans wherein the women placed their names in an urn and the men would pick up. It is hoped that the match up would end up in marriage. This would probably be the beginnings of the romantic celebration of Valentine’s day.
There is an obscure reference to Geoffrey Chaucer’s poems as setting off romantic greetings on Valentine’s day. But it wasn’t until the publication of "The Young Man’s Valentine Writer" that pre-written sentimental verses became popular. And this, dear Watson, is what made Hallmark cards a multi-billion business.
Valentine’s has become the most lucrative date outside of Christmas. In the USA, 190 million valentine’s cards are sent each year. Gifts on Valentine’s day have generated billions in revenue because of the excessive and obligatory gift exchange traditions. This has inspired anti-consumption behaviors and some has labeled the V-day as the commercialization of romance. Chocolatiers and restaurateurs are most busy during Valentine’s and so are hotels and motels. Unlike Christmas when celebrations are with families, Valentine’s are for couples -- married or not.
In 2013, a condom maker in the Philippines distributed condoms during V-day and as expected, angered the Catholic church. This is despite the fact that motel owners, like Victoria Court, attest that the busiest dates of the year for all their branches in the country is from February 13 to 15. The before and after Valentine’s dates are reserved for "Number 2" or "Number 3." Relationships outside marriage have become prevalent in a country where the macho culture and the absence of divorce have forced partners in loveless unions. But then again, the Catholic Church has opposed anything that has "sex" in it including sex or reproductive health education in a country where 25 people are said to be infected with HIV every day.
There is obviously no love in that loathsome figure. But whatever the contentions, it is Valentine’s day next Tuesday. Let’s just celebrate love.