Valentine’s Day: When Cupid’s Arrow Strikes

By: Barnali Bose, Editor-ICN Group

KOLKATA: The youth of today celebrate the 14th of February as the day of love. Those blessed with partners reinforce their love by giving gifts and uttering words of everlasting love .New relationships commence with proposals of love made on this special day and gifts are showered on new found love. Men offer red roses to their beloved  when Cupid’s arrow strikes them and infuses them with the nectar of love.

In Classic mythology,Cupid is the son of the Roman Goddess of love,Venus. He has white wings and is armed with a golden bow and arrows,signifying passionate love and intense desire. No one is immune to his arrows,so when struck ,one is said to fall deeply in love.

The concept of Valentine Day as a symbol of  love is a rather new phenomenon like Mothers’ Day,Fathers’ Day and so on and so forth. In our growing years, we were aware of only Children’s Day, Teachers’ Day and Brothers’ Day( Bhai Dooj). We hadn’t even remotely heard of Valentine’s Day.However with increased commercialism, this particular day has received an importance,perhaps surpassed by none else.

How this particular day came to be Valentine’s Day is worth dwelling upon. Although this day is a celebration, it is noteworthy that  around the year 278 A.D,St.Valentine,a Roman priest was executed on the orders of  Emperor Claudius on the same date.

During the rule of Claudius,Rome was incessantly involved in battles. The war-loving king believed that his subjects  were hesitant to join the army leaving their wives and families behind.He therefore proclaimed a ban on engagements and weddings. Valentine defied the decree and continued to get young lovers married in utmost secrecy.

Claudius was infuriated when he was apprised of the matter and sentenced the priest  to death. Not only was Valentine severely beaten,but he was beheaded on 14th February in about 270 A.D. Legend says that he had developed a fondness for the jailor’ s daughter to whom he wrote a letter signing it off as “ From your Valentine”

Legends are varied about how Valentine became synonymous with romance and love.The date coincides with the Feast of Lupercalia,a pagan festival of love which could be why the nomenclature of Valentine’s day came to be associated with this date. It was an occasion when young men and women were romantically paired up based on lots drawn. In 496 A.D, Pope Gelasius declared the day as Valentine’s Day.

The Catholic Encyclopedia cites instances of three different martyrs of the same name.Without venturing to decipher who the day actually commemorates, it would be better to consider it a glorification of love, love in all aspects and love for all living beings beyond the constraints of caste,creed,region and religion.