Dear St. Valentine
Grateful as I am to your struggle to preserve Christianity in the world and your refusal to convert to Roman Paganism in spite of extreme pressure from Claudius II in AD 269 – I’m afraid the significance of ‘Valentine’ was completely lost once you were martyred. To make matters worse, Geoffrey Chaucer went ahead and popularized the concept of romantic love.
Chaucer’s idea of Valentine’s Day was that lovers would come forward and confess about their feelings using flowers, confectionery and secret love-messages. An idea that spread like wild-fire and is now celebrated in over a 100 countries.
As sugary-sweet as this illustrious notion was, it didn’t survive that long walk from the 15th to the 21st century.
Being in heaven should insulate you from the shock of this but it’s true that unfortunately, there is no romantic love associated with Valentine’s Day today. It falls on the 14th of February in honor of the 14 martyred saints or Valentinus and is one of the most anticipated and ‘plastic’ events of the year : Over-the-top, fake and blatantly affectionate messages are sent at a feverish pace through cell phones; live email cards that are impersonal, repetitive and robotic play loudly on the speakers; people are proposing on bent knee, stuttering, smiling and crying as if it’s war and they’re not sure they’ll see each other again; sex is being had and physical intimacy displayed by lust-infused couples as if the sole responsibility of procreation is on their shoulders; roses, chocolates, stuffed toys, cheap turquoise jewelry, wine, cotton candy, confetti sprays, velvet cushions and everything in hideous shades of red and pink are being sent as if they’re going to be a reminder of love for eternity and won’t wilt, break, tear, be ignored or consumed within a day of the delivery.
This time tomorrow couples will be spending a lot more time separated, single,on facebook walls, tweet-boxes, chat windows, coffee shops and gossip-bars discussing less about the person they love and more about what the person did for them and stuff like – how they did it/ their exact expression and tone of voice/ whether it was special or ordinary/whether it was cute and whether it will draw sufficient ‘awwwws’ from family and friends.
I fail to understand such transient displays of volatile feelings. Maybe I’m orthodox and antiquated or maybe I was present in your days in an older incarnation carefully absorbing the true meaning of love and faith, while you and your fellow saints were being persecuted. I don’t want a man to tell me he loves me today ; I want him to tell me he loves me on every day- for the rest of my life. And I want others to share that kind of love too. Surely this is better than the commercial, increase-the-sales-of-Tiffany-and-Hallmark-Gallery-products-kind of love?
Early this morning I received a lovely secret valentine from God in my email inbox and realized, that God was my first valentine and his gift of love shall be whole and eternal. That is all, now, that this day means to me. I’m assuming you approve heartily because that is what you fought for. You will be pleased to know that like you- some of us know the real meaning of love that isn’t just annual but daily.
If it’s viable, please dispatch some more genuine cupids in tutus that bear arrows with a long-lasting sting of love and lesser porky and piggy, Aphrodite-like gnomes that simply excite pheromone levels. We’re running a little low on love.