I wrote the valentine article exactly 12 months ago last year for my predecessor site on spaces.msn.com and prepared it sometime last week to republish it today. I didn't realise the Friday sermon would come first. The Imams are technically correct that Valentine's Day is named after St. Valentine. However even then, Valentine's Day was named to replace an even older pagan festival. Anyway, I thought I will republish the posting that I wrote last year as I am pretty sure not many people have read it as then the readership consisted only of me and my better half.
In most parts of the world, today is Valentine's Day. It has been estimated that throughout the world, approximately one billion valentine cards are sent during Valentine's Day, making the day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year behind Christmas; and that 85 percent of all cards are purchased by women!
Did you know that Valentine's Day began as a pagan festival? The Romans then engaged in an annual fertility rite in honour of one of their many gods named Lupercus where the names of young women were placed in a box and drawn by adolescent men. The resulting random matches became 'companions' for the following year. The Catholic Church tried to end this pagan rite and selected a martyred Saint Valentine to replace Lupercus. (An Italian priest named Valentine was said to be imprisoned by the Roman Emperor Claudius II for secretly joining young lovers in matrimony). Over time, the Lupercian lottery was replaced with the custom of Roman men offering women their admired hand-written greetings of affection on February 14.
Several other versions depending on sources said that Valentine's Day was established to abolish another European heathen village custom of boys drawing the names of girls on the 15th of the month in honor of the goddess Februata Juno; and another claimed that sending greetings to loved ones on Feb. 14 dates to the middle ages when it was believed that this day marked the beginning of the mating season for birds. So if you are celebrating Valentine's Day, it can be said that you are either commemorating some ancient gods or emulating the birds!
With the commercialisation of the celebration, Valentine’s Day has become an institutionalised guilt trip for both men and women. But why would you need a special day to recognise your loved ones?