Valentine’s Day also known within the Ghanaian parlance as ‘Vals’ day originated from the Roman priest Saint Valentine. Saint Valentine was actually a very charismatic priest who reached out to others, most especially the poor, needy and marginalised in the society. In order to commemorate all his good works, the feast of Saint Valentine was established by the Roman Pope Gelasius in AD 496 and it has since then been remembered every February 14 on the catholic calendar as a feast day.
Valentine’s day has since developed into a tradition of courtly love by the 14th century within the era of Geoffrey Chaucer. By the 18th century, it was used as a medium of expression of love by couples in England.
The situation at stake now seems to drift away from the initial purpose for which the day was instituted. From onset, Valentine’s day was mainly used in remembrance for the good works done by the Roman martyr Valentine and also to as far as possible replicate the good deeds which he once exhibited.
In Ghana, this day is marked with extravagance, ranging from the purchase of expensive gifts or souvenirs to expensive dates usually at very expensive places. Most often than not, these gifts are not given to wives or husbands. Instead they are given to boyfriends, girlfriends or concubines. Reaching out to the poor or needy; the very essence for this day is long forgotten. Instead what we see is the dashing of gifts to concubines, girlfriends or boyfriends. The question here is, do the receivers of these gifts really merit or deserve them? Are they really in need, as in poor and helpless? Would Saint Valentine really be happy that he is been remembered this way?
The dark side of the commemoration of Valentine’s day remains untold. There have been several reports on some of the negative practices in which people indulge in on account of this day. Notable amongst such deviant behaviour is promiscuity. Most people see this day as one to which they would use to exhibit their sexual prowess without bearing in mind the numerous STI’s which abound. Apart from the fact that it has been set aside as a day for showing love, it is also a feast day in accordance with the catholic doctrine. It is therefore sacrilegious to use this holy day to practice promiscuity. If nothing at all, all and sundry should join hands with the church by praying for the marginalised, the poor and less privileged in society.
It is not bad to give out gifts to loved ones but the main bone of contention here is whether we are really living up to the main purpose for the institution of Valentine’s day. It should be a day in which the marginalised like; the beggars, the blind, the crippled etc should be remembered and made to know that they are part and parcel of society.
Just as Saint Valentine ministered to the persecuted christians and conducted weddings for some Roman soldiers who were not allowed to marry, same should be emulated in our society. In mates in our prisons could also be reached out to on this said day, in order to showcase or extend our love to them. In as much as possible, it should not be a day which would be used to promote or indulge in immoral practices.
With regards to how Valentine’s day is observed in our part of the world, is the celebration hyped? Or is it really necessary?
Source: Dakurah Sebastian
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