By Josephine Agbonkhese, Anino Aganbi & Chris Onuoha
IT’S been two days since St. Valentine’s Day celebration, but the euphoria still fills the air even as many wait patiently for the weekend to observe their own celebration.
Valentine’s Day is a day set aside for the celebration of love and is observed almost across the globe even though it isn’t an official public holiday. It however took it roots from a Roman holiday called Lupercalia.
The romantic practice dated back to the 5th century is in remembrance of a Christian martyr called St. Valentine. It is associated with red colour and an alluring red rose flower.
Subsequently, the celebration has gone beyond normal observation to something of a social attraction with parties, festivals and even seminars. Some corporate and public organizations usually adorn their offices with roses while staff wears full red clothing or ‘a peck of red’ as Valentine’s Day fashion. Churches also organize youth programmes to educate and redirect the minds of youths from the only perceived erotic love practice to platonic feelings towards one another. Some offices also organize small get together events, sometimes with balloted name picking for gifts sharing and so on.
In the face of evolving technology, the popular rush for well designed custom-made cards has been replaced with internet generated love cards sent via social media platforms while other means of celebration are curtailed through whatsapp and Facebook platforms.
However, this year’s Val celebration is assumed to have been affected by the economic situation Nigeria is passing through.
Woman’s Own took time out to know some people’s thoughts about the celebration.
It’s not just for intimate lovers—Bimbo Akintola
Talking to Woman’s Own, Bimbo Akintola, Nollywood actress said, “Valentine, to me, is simply a period of love and showing love to everyone, not just your boyfriend or girlfriend but for everyone including family members and friends too. My special Valentine for this year was my mum. I showered all the love to my mum whom I believe deserved it.”
Bimbo also noted that though the economy is hard and biting, Nigerians still remain happy people. “Nigerians are happy people. They will always find a way to celebrate regardless of the situation. We will still celebrate even if it requires drinking soaked gari,” Bimbo said.
It’s a time for reflection—Toyin Ohio-Alegbe
Also sharing her views was Toyin Ohio-Alegbe, a socialite, TV personality and owner, HEV Communications, who, in her blunt comments, described Valentine’s Day as a celebration of love and sacrifice with or without financial attachment to it.
She said: “Valentine’s Day, we all understand, means love and sacrifice. Yes, it’s okay to celebrate the day and with the economic situation in the country, it’s still worth celebrating. Although, it’s not about love being celebrated or situation commanding it either way. In the country now, people are celebrating every day—proposing and throwing lavish wedding parties here and there, buying exotic cars and building magnificent houses every day. If people think they have the money to go on holidays, picnics or throw parties in the name of Valentine, it is okay so long they don’t go borrowing or breaking banks to do it.
Sometimes, some may go as far as collecting bribes in their workplace or doing nefarious things in the name of satisfying their loved ones on a day like this. I think it is not good, it is rather selfish. Valentine ideology does not imply a period to overdo, rather, it is a time to reflect, experience and share the true meaning of love. Love goes with sacrifice and if you are principled, able and capable to celebrate it, however minimally, why not? For me, Valentine should be every day. February 14 is set aside for it but for me, it should be timeless and daily. It must not be expensive but should be observed in what it represents.”
Attitude towards Valentine: Talking about the attitude of people towards Valentine celebration with regard to its moral effects, Ohio-Alegbe blurted that people are bound to engage in immorality, with or without Val.
“People do not need any special day to do what they want to do. Val or no Val, immorality is going on everyday. To some people, it is an opportunity to commit immoral acts prevalently among youths and some adults of like mind.
Sharing of goodwill messages
However, if we go by the real meaning of St. Valentine’s Day and what it stands for, there’s so much to benefit. It’s a time to renew your love vow, affection to someone and share gifts and goodwill messages too. You could also use the period to network and broker businesses through sharing of goodwill messages, greeting cards or exotic gifts as your resources can carry.
“For the record, one’s Valentine does not have to be a lover. My mother can be my Valentine. A lot of people don’t see it like that. My siblings or family member or even an extended relation can be my Val. Even domestic quarrels or an issue with someone can be resolved using Valentine as a tool for that. But many people who perhaps do not really understand the meaning seem to see it as a time to take someone to bed and fulfill an urge.”
A Catholic priest, Rev. Father Michael Eteghene, however emphasized the need to define what kind of love is being celebrated in the name of Valentine’s Day.
“From the main proponent of this celebration, St. Valentine himself, it is clear that he was just doing his own thing as a child of God with gospel values and with the two greatest commandments – love of God and love of neighbors, through charitable means and other things. We know that in the spirit of this, people celebrated with exchange of gifts, cards and love in true sense of the word love, but overtime, these have changed.
“Now, people have a way of socializing it and removing the Christian values from it. So, what you hear more about is the social aspect – people hanging out with their girl or boyfriends. Those who are practicing it in the real sense are few. However, it is not supposed to be February 14 alone but all time celebration,” he said.
Valentine in recession
Indeed Valentine’s Day has become more of a social celebration, even requiring ridiculous amounts of money to celebrate these days. The present economic situation in the country has therefore made it nearly impossible for many to celebrate due to their understanding of the celebration.
Father Eteghene however affirmed that love could be celebrated with or without money.
“Of course you need money to buy gifts but in the absence of that, you can render help by other means. Prayers and emotional care do not require money. Although, economy has a role to play in anything we do, the most important thing.