Monday, February 13, 2012

Every year, the fourteenth day of February sees all of us, no matter what age or sex, scurrying about organising surprises, no matter how big or small and presenting our loved ones with flowers, chocolates and whatever other treat or gift we can think of to show our love.

Every table in every good restaurant is usually taken well in advance and God help the poor boyfriend, husband or fiancée who didn’t get a chance to shop!

While we give cards and gifts and hope we have someone care enough about us to leave a little surprise the history of St Valentines day is actually very sweet and deserves some recognition.

Valentines day, some say, originates from a bishop named Valentine, who was stationed in the Roman Empire. At that time the Emperor was Claudius II, who took it upon himself to decide that men who were not yet married actually made better soldiers than did the ones with wives and families.

It was this belief that brought about his decision to make it a rule of law that young men could not marry. Such an outrageous decision caused distress for so many young men and their sweethearts that round 270 A.D., it was bishop Valentine who took great pity on these poor and lonely soldiers who were pining for their loves and he began performing secret marriages against the ruling of the Emperor.

Once the secret marriages were found out Claudius II was enraged and jailed Valentine. While imprisoned Claudius II began his attempts to convert Valentine insisting that he worship only the Roman Gods, but Valentine refused and Instead, he began his own campaign to convert Claudius to Christianity.

Valentine was sentenced to be executed on February 24, 270.

There is also another version of the history of Valentines Day which tells a more romantic side to the story (which we all love of course!)

While imprisoned, Valentine fell in love with his jailer’s daughter. Just before his death, he sent his beloved a note telling her of his love and at the end the signature read “from your Valentine.” With the tale of deceit, romance and death, those who knew the story began to talk of the demise of Valentine and over time his fame was far reaching.

Bishop Valentine, having not only sacrificed his own life to help the young couples in love, also overcame the reality of his predicament to fall in love with his executioners daughter, became what a “Patron Saint” of love.  As time passed his legend lived on and many considered him the patron or spiritual overseer of an annual festival held on the 14th of February, in which young couples would give cards of love and affection to those they were not only already in love with, but to those they wished to date.

There are even Valentine cards in museums worldwide that date back to 1415.

we will leave you on this day of celebrating the uniqueness and beauty of love with this:

Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments.

Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds,

Or bends with the remover to remove:
0, no! it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests and is never shaken;

It is the star to every wandering bark,

Whose worth’s unknown, although his height be taken.
Love’s not time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle’s compass come;

Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks, but bears it out even to the edge of doom.

If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare