St. Valentine’s Day: Love or Business?

Published 16th February 2011
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St. Valentine’s Day: Love or Business?

Last Monday was the famous 14th of February, and St. Valentine’s Day, which is celebrated almost everywhere. It’s a well known fact that it is a day for lovers. When couples celebrate and show their love with gifts, dedications, poems… But have you ever wondered where and when this tradition comes from? Why do we celebrate it on this date in particular, and who chose it?

Julia and Valentine

Well, there are several theories explaining the origin of St. Valentine’s Day. But there is a particularly attention-grabbing legend that attributes its beginnings to Bishop Valentine. Back in the year 270, the Roman emperor Claudius II prohibited marriage, on the grounds that recently married men refused to go to war. So a priest called Valentine started to perform secret marriages, until he was discovered and ordered to be executed. While he awaited his execution in prison, he fell in love with Julia, the prison warden’s daughter. She was blind, but eventually recovered her sight thanks to a miracle attributed to the love of the priest.

Valentine was executed on the 14th February, and since then, the legend has continued. Before his death, the priest wrote a love letter to Julia, and signed it “from your Valentine.” And so began the tradition, and people continue to exchange cards expressing their love on this day.

St. Valentine’s Day – The business of love

This tradition has evolved from the typical card, bunch of flowers, or box of chocolates, to some people treating their partners to weekends away in a spa, country home, and even to holidays in some of the most romantic cities in the world, like Venice or Paris. And let’s not forget the slap-up dinners, jewellery, perfumes, soft toys, and now virtual gifts, given online or via mobile phone.

Many people think this day has turned more into a business than a tradition, a day more synonymous with irrational spending than with love. To the extent that for some, love just isn’t powerful enough unless it comes bearing gifts. Every February, shop displays are full of hearts of all sizes, cupids, and all sorts, in order to wring the very maximum profit out of what some call “the business of love.” What’s certain is that every February, the patron saint of love increases sales by exorbitant rates throughout most of Europe, the USA, and many other parts of the world where they celebrate this day. All while provoking the hatred of many people. However, it’s worth mentioning that in Columbia, the second highest exporter of flowers after Holland, St. Valentine’s Day represents 15% of their annual volume of flower sales.

There are those who eagerly anticipate the arrival of this date. Others, however, (and myself included) find it absurd that you should have to prove the affection you feel with fancy gifts, just because the calendar tells you to.

Happy St. Valentine’s Day to you all!

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