By Prince Ejeh Josh
The aura of Valentine’s Day is in the air. In every nook and cranny, the rhythm remains ‘Valentine’. It’s a season of love. A time to celebrate love and to shower love on ‘somebody’. This is the punic irony of the dictate of today.
Interesting enough, if you ask a Muslim faithful, an African Traditional Religious worshipper, an atheist, and needless say a Christian, what is it that the world celebrates on February 14 every year, ‘Valentine’, they are quick to give that snap answer. Further ask them what is Valentine; ‘love day’ they will frantically reply. On further interrogation, they will tell you that this love is all about sending and receiving garlands, laurels and better still, flowers, and also different kinds of heartwarming messages such as greeting cards, special gifts, etc., especially between or among those in ‘romantic relationship’. This celebration, it’s a ubiquitous but misleading and perverted belief, should eventually end up with a sexual intercourse and acts of promiscuity between unmarried young men and women.
Valentine’s Day is a day to abuse sex, drug and alcohol. It’s an outing day to spend and lavish money on mundane affairs. This is the agony of Valentine celebration. It’s unfortunate that a new meaning and definition, averse from the traditional notion and philosophy of Valentine has been ascribed to it by modern generation. In reality, synonyms for Valentine’s Day will read as; hysterical sexual orgy, sex, alcohol, partying, clubbing, merriment, and prodigality, in the mind of majority of our youths. Thoughtfully, even married men, like those old enough to be our fathers, grandfathers, and even mothers will embark on the voyage of adultery and sexual spree outside their matrimonial homes in celebration of Valentine.
We may, however, want to sojourn into where and how we got it wrong by briefly looking at the history of Valentine’s Day, and its dialectics with our practice today. Suffice it to say that due to deliberate distortion and an attempt to pervert history, there are now conflicting imports introduced into the origin of or how Valentine’s Day came to be and won general acceptance by people. According to the Church account, where Valentine was canonised as Saint; there once existed a Catholic Priest who was meek, doing good to people, helping the helpless, feeding the needy, consoling the spiritually, physically and psychologically wounded, and helping combatants, especially as it pertained to a free discharge of knotting the nuptial. This was at the envy of the prevailing and reining authority. After several abortive attempts to dissuade the first preacher from furthering such helping hands by the authority as this was making the despotic very unpopular while there was a swift advancement in the propagation and acceptance of the Gospel message through this act of meekness, St. Valentine was judicially arrested and imprisoned. Even there in prison, his good works continued. This infuriated the despotic power who ordered him to be beheaded.
On the strength of the above, one can authoritatively submit that the purposes of Valentine’s celebration are for “us to go outside there, as Christ had instructed us, and preach the gospel of Christ; the Word of God, and tell the world that Christ is the message of eternal life through our way of life.” This will mean, in effect, helping the poor, giving alms, doing good, visiting the sick, imprisons, walking the streets to celebrate those abandoned and held under the bridges by the inequalities of this world, and avoiding what is or may be harmful to our neighbors. “But wanting to justify himself, the Lawyer further asked Jesus; who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:29. And Jesus laid the test of the neighborhood principle to mean, lending a helping hand to those in need. That’s what Valentine set out to achieve.
Valentine’s Day is a day that calls for introspection and self examination. It’s a day to be sober, and act within the confine of objective moral principles. A day to visit the motherless homes and shower them with love. A day to visit many children suffering on the streets: children abandoned through matrimonial crises, sexual recklessness occasioning unwanted pregnancies, and parental responsibility. Children that are continued to be choked under the mercy of nature. Children and the aged that the society has not only neglected, but abandoned to fate. In Frank Fanon’s vivid description; “Wretched of the Earth”.
We have these vulnerable ones all over around. Take your time and visit them, and you will shed tears at human’s agony. Some of these children are females. They are always suffering sexual molestation every night. Can you help them? They need you and I to survive. Try and shower them with love and watch them feel the touch of being human beings again. This, to me and to the Church, is the true meaning of Valentine’s Day.
“Clothe them”, says the Lord. They are helplessly naked, dying under the heavy arm of cold and wasting away in the scorch of the Sun. Are we ready to offer some help? Why not use that money you have earmarked to surprise your boyfriends and girlfriends, or your concubines to surprise those who are in most need of it? Give hope to the hopeless. Wipe the tears of the wailing children. Comfort those in sorrow. Put smiles on the faces of those agonized. And pray, without ceasing for them.
Come February 14! Come Sunday! Come today! And it may end up being the worst day of the year, when immorality is ungodly multiplied. No wonder, a non-governmental organisation has distributed millions condoms to Nigerians over the previous weeks. From Primary schools through Secondary schools to tertiary institutions. And the questions are; what for? Are we going for sex competition or embarking on mindless sexual orgy? They said, these packs of condoms would help protect people from unprotected sex and sexual abuses especially among our youths. I think, rather than tagging February 14 ‘Valentine’s Day’, it would be appropriate to call it a ‘World Sex Day”.
At this point of the season, it’s, however, more disheartening and unfortunate that many of us who are Roman Catholics having Lenten season approaching like the time-winged chariot, a time Apostle Paul says we should be sober while at the same time, pray without end, would want to celebrate the Valentine in a way not pleasing to God, and thereafter, head for a confession. “Father, please, forgive me, for I’ve sinned!”
Prince Ejeh Josh is a celebrity writer, brand media ambassador for tourism, and author of Why I Bade Dating Goodbye.