Posted on February 16th, 2016

Dr.Tilak S. Fernando

 When Henry Ward Beecher scribbled the following two sentences: Young love is a flame; very pretty, often very hot and fierce, but still only light and flickering. The love of the older and disciplined heart is as coals, deep burning, unquenchable“, I wonder whether he did ever envision his writing would become world famous and one day finally slot into a specific day in the  month of February to be characteristically named  as the Valentine’s day.

This particular day is now regarded, accepted and celebrated as a day dedicated mainly for ‘lovers’. Not only the meaning of the word has ingrained into the young minds, but the whole concept behind this theme has metamorphosed over the years to become 14th of February as the Valentine’s day. Presently Valentine’s Day is closely connected with the conjoint exchange of ‘love notes’ in the form of greeting cards. So, February 14th is regarded as the day of the Cupid, the child-like winged deity, the son of Venus, the Roman goddess of love.

According to Greek mythology, the Cupid is Aphrodite’s son Eros. The modern ‘valentine trend’ is to represent it with a variety of symbols, the most popular being the red rose and the red coloured heart-shaped contour with Cupid’s figure.

Opinions, of course, vary as to the formation and establishment of the Valentine’s Day. Some connoisseurs maintain that it originated out of St. Valentine, the Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity! He died on 14th of February, 269 A D, on the same day that had been dedicated to ‘love lotteries’.  The folklore also verbalises that St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who happened to be his friend, autographed with the words: “From Your Valentine“. Other aspects of the story are Saint Valentine had served as a priest at the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius; when Claudius jailed Valentine for defying him, Pope Gelasius, the third and the last Bishop of Rome of North African Origin (492- 496) in the Catholic Church, set aside 14th of February in honour of St Valentine.

Feeling of Love

It is of course far more problematic to understand or describe the real nature of LOVE beyond anything out of the two amorous lines, because love is a kind of sensation that cannot be examined under a microscope! One may use all the talents and charms in the world and spend hours on end pondering over the philosophical nature of this magic human reaction, yet fail to agree upon, the reason being that every individual’s experience of love and ways of showing it is unique indeed


According to the legend, all the young women in the city many moons ago used to place their names in a big urn on February 14 while the bachelors chose a name,  each from  the urn and became paired for one year with his chosen woman. These ‘ love’ matches often ended up in marriage!  Going beyond the human world, it was also commonly believed in France and England that on 14th of February every year birds’ mating season began, which broaden the idea that the Valentines’ day in mid February should be a day for romance!

Love communications

Charles, Duke of Orleans, wrote the oldest poem on a valentine greeting card to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London after his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. The friendly hint, which was written in 1415, was part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London. Several years later, King Henry V was believed to have hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose a valentine message to Catherine of Valois.

Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around 17th Century in Britain. By the middle of the 18th Century, it became common for friends and lovers in all-social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes. By the end of the century  and with the advancement of printing technology, printed cards replaced original handwritten letters, which once directed one’s feelings and emotions.

Esther A Howland began to sell the first mass-produced valentine cards in America in the 1840s. Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers, marked by sending cards, flowers, simple gifts and often ending the day with a small gathering or a formal ball room dance.

Mythical daydreams

Valentine’s Day has become a mega commercial hype seemingly at present with special Valentine dances throughout the cities, and one billion valentine cards exchange hands on a single day throughout the world making just the perfect excuse to make lots of people spend even more money to avoid feeling disappointed, inadequate or insecure whilst enabling greeting card producers, stationery outlets and postal services  to become rich.

No one can deny the fact that we, as human beings,  all enjoy an overdose of sycophancy from time to time and indulge in mythical daydreams! We may try to be jolly on this special day being showered with romantic cards, bouquets of red roses, a single rose, boxes of chocolate with writings on them such as “All because the lady loves…”. Some become lavish and spend a fortune on eating out at star hotels while getting drunk like fish with ‘gal’, ‘pol’, wine or whiskey. For a different kind of valentine, it could yet be another occasion to hit a dance floor and enjoy a bit of pelvic thrust in romantic dim lights and say it is just what the cupid ordered!

But let’s face it, if you are forced to rely on one day of the year alone to feel that ‘love is in the air’ and ‘happily ever after’ you could be far way off! Haven’t we all heard the idiom, ‘to love another, one has to love oneself‘? In such a hypothesis, wouldn’t it be nicer to offer a little bit of love in an unexpected direction this year by sending valentine card to your own address with a simple sentence ‘ Be my Valentine’!


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