In contemporary culture, Valentine’s Day 2013 has become a global event that marks the triumph of love all over world.It is traditionally celebrated by people who belong to every age especially by couples in India.
St. Valentine’s Day 2013 is generally thought of as a western cultural phenomenon because of its association with a biblical legend: a saint is imprisoned and persecuted for officiating marriages of soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were victimized under the Roman Empire. It has been said that during his detention period, he was said to have healed the jailer’s daughter to whom he addressed a letter signed ‘from your Valentine’. And thus, the legend began.
In popular culture; however, the day itself is removed from its liturgical significance and is celebrated as a commemoration of romantic love. For this, Chaucer is to be blamed. During the High Middle Ages, the first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love is in Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer; a poem written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia:
(“For this was on Saint Valentine’s Day, When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”)
As it was to be, literature paved the way for the tradition to survive. It was also during the 14th century that the idea of courtly love had flourished; men would express their courtship towards their partner by giving the girl roses, confectionary and greeting cards called valentines. The culture of sending cards expressing confessions of a romantic inclination began and it still continues even to this day.
In modern culture, Valentine’s Day has turned out to be a universal event that scripts the victory of love all over Europe and has reached to India as well.It is customarily celebrated by people in India who belong to every age especially by couples. In East Asian countries like China, Japan and South Korea, Valentine’s Day is celebrated with much enthusiasm. There is; however, a twist: women and only women give chocolates to the men on 14th February. Men on the other hand return the favor on White Day usually celebrated on March 14th of every year.
What is interesting to note is that Iran and China have their indigenous festivals that celebrate a similar expression of love but with slight differences. On every seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese Lunar Year, the Qixi Festival commemorates the day on which a legendary cow-herder and weaving maid were allowed to be together. In Iran, there is afestival known as Sepandarmazgan, where people express deep love towards their lady who gave them birth (mothers) and wives, and also a festival of celebrations on earth in ancient Persian culture.
The iconography of the contemporary popular culture becomes a reflection of an artists’ conceptualization of Valentine’s Day. The image of the cupid shooting an arrow or hearts pierced with love, allude to the legends’ mythological background: such is the metaphor of this image that it is considered equivalent to an individual’s proclamation of being in love with someone!
Comics, mangas and animes dedicate entire episodes of their graphic novels depicting the celebration of Valentine’s Day by adolescents going through throes of first love. This is shows nothing less than a pro- Valentine’s Day stance. A more recent image conception of Valentine’s Day is the caricature sketch: one of the most prominent American newspapers depicts a hording army of people with hearts for eyes standing bunched together as if in a hypnotized daze. And here you realize that Valentine’s Day has become a form of social conditioning for the masses. It isn’t out of nowhere that anti- valentines have suddenly erupted: for them being single is an expression of their choice to remain an individual. The criticism on Valentine’s Day just doesn’t end here.
Many postcolonial theorists have pointed out that the idea itself is entirely western in flavor for non -westerners and that its acceptance into their society marks a deviation from the cultural roots of their indigenous lands. Religious scholars that belong to faiths other than Christianity also deem Valentine’s Day as either a liturgical ritual particular to church or as a path to licentious social behavior that promotes perverted individual outlook of sexuality.
Nevertheless, there is no denying that Valentine’s Day is a contemporary cultural phenomenon of a global scale that has a history of more than a millennium which has shaped our modern understanding of the idea of loveitself.