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Valentine’s Day is a booming multimillion-dollar industry. Also, it is the number one holiday for florists, with more than 198 million roses produced yearly for it.
But where did Valentine’s Day originate—and how did cards, the heart symbol, and cupid become associated with it?
One legend purports that St. Valentine was a Roman priest: “It is believed that the young priest rose to distinction after betraying Emperor Claudius in 270 AD by conducting illegitimate wedding ceremonies in the capital. Emperor Claudius claimed that married men made poor soldiers and consequently decreed that all marriages of younger citizens would be outlawed. Bishop Valentine, however, maintained that marriage was part of God’s plan. He continued to conduct marriages in secret between young people, sometimes as young as twelve, in the name of love.”
His success gained him unwelcome notoriety, which became Bishop Valentine’s downfall. He was jailed and ultimately beheaded, but not before he fell in love with the jailer’s daughter. It is thought that on the evening of his execution the bishop passed her a note which read ‘from your Valentine’. This story has blossomed into the defining tradition of Valentine’s Day.
The customs related to this day, however, began much earlier than AD 270. Since ancient times, mid-February has always been linked to sex and fertility. Ancient Athenians celebrated February as the month of Gamelion to commemorate the marriage of the Greek god Zeus to Hera—the goddess of women, marriage and childbirth.
Today, the holiday continues to promote ‘manufactured love’—filled with trite greeting cards and ubiquitous heart-shaped candies. Many people feel obligated by societal expectations to buy gifts and send Valentine cards to loved ones. Others mark the day by indulging in casual sex.
Condom sales skyrocket before the “day for lovers,” which is also known as National Condom Day. One condom producer reported that his retail sales increased by 25 to 30 percent around this time. The effects lingers during the following months. In the second, third and fourth week of March, spending on at-home pregnancy and infertility tests is higher than usual.
The sexual side of Valentine’s Day shows it’s face even in the seemingly harmless parts of the day.
A common symbol of this day is Cupid, often pictured as a chubby, winged baby that shoots arrows to make people fall in love. This Roman god’s name derives from the Latin word cupido, meaning “desire.”
Today, Cupid’s arrow has become an accepted symbol of love. His name and image are frequently associated with Valentine’s Day cards, romantic gifts, and dating services, as well as is the heart symbol, which is said to be the seat of emotion.
But is this really the case?
Of cupid’s arrow piercing the heart symbol, Jack Santino wrote in the book All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life, “It can also be seen as a symbolic representation of the male and female principles, the round and open heart shape indicating the female, the arrow through it a phallic male symbol. The heart and arrow would then represent the union of these two forces in sexual coition.”
The harm of the day runs deeper than ancient pagan sex-rites. Minds sucked into this “mandated” celebration often grow up with a wrong understanding of love.
In the book Sex – Its Unknown Dimension, David C. Pack explained this widespread misconception.
“Most in the modern age have been sold a false concept of love. This concept is perpetuated in literature, film and music, with endless intoning of lyrics about ‘love’—‘I love you, You are my one and only love, Let’s make “love”, I want to love you tonight etc. Love has been mistakenly equated with romantic feelings, physical attraction or sexual desire—and illicit sexual relations. It is invariably confused with simple lust!
Valentine’s Day has always focused on ‘getting’: from getting a sex partner for the year in ancient times to getting affection, getting love—getting sex—today!
No matter how hard a person tries, or how sincere one is, the lust-filled pagan origins of Valentine’s Day cannot be ignored. God does not—and would never—condone such a holiday.
True love cannot be expressed once a year as part of a superficial holiday. Nor can it be found in a one-day affair of free sex that so often results in unwanted pregnancies, abortions, STDs, pain, depression or suicide. Instead, true love is focused on continually giving another person what he or she needs with no ulterior motives—in the way God commands.
For men, Valentine’s Day is a day where they get to prove how much they love their girl. For women, V-Day is a day to sit back and relax as their guy breaks his back to give them the perfect night. Valentine’s Day feeds into the stereotype that men are dominant in the relationship—here’s this powerful, strong man, giving me everything I could have ever wanted; without him, I’d be nothing. So totally wrong! Girls and guys should be equals when it comes to a relationship; not one person should do more than the other.
How about a little originality? Girls expect to be proposed to on Valentine’s Day, which takes away from the surprise of it all. Also, it’s something that everyone else does—so why would you want one of the most important days of your life to be shared with tons of other men and women?
In a nutshell, Valentine’s Day creates the necessity of ‘the other’ that needs to be there to make you feel valued and taken care of. In the absence of the ‘other’, the life of one’s own reduces to a miniscule importance, which definitely is not the case. Thus, Valentine’s Day today has become very commercial and capitalistic in its essence of showcasing one’s love through various commodities, which truly downgrades the real significance of love.
Love does not need a single day in the year to be celebrated. Love itself is a celebration in its own!