By Maria Cristina-Ionita
What if I told you that Valentine’s Day is a commemoration of a martyr?
According to history, the Catholic Church celebrates three martyrs with the name ‘Valentine’. One of them was a priest who defied Emperor Claudius II by performing marriages in secret since the Emperor had decided that single men were better soldiers and banned his men from marrying their lovers. When Claudius found out, he had the priest killed. Others believe that the celebration is reserved for yet another man named ‘Valentine’, a bishop beheaded by the same Emperor at a different time. Not so much of a romance story so far, but certainly one of bravery and kindness.
Another story states that ‘Valentine’ was helping the Christians to escape Roman jails as the prisoners were tortured and killed for their beliefs. He ended up being jailed himself, though he fell in love with a lady – believed to be the jailor’s daughter (a bit of a cliché if you ask me) – but before he was executed, he offered her a letter (a card, if you will) signed ‘From your Valentine’ and this is where the phrase supposedly comes from.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike romance or the idea of love, but I do believe that Valentine’s Day has lost its meaning. Today, when we talk about relationships, we all have our own values and experiences, but somehow with all this love, we forget to love the most important person – us. Some people feel like they should constantly be in a relationship to feel appreciated, or to enjoy life. We associate being single with loneliness – they’re not the same thing. Let’s change this perspective and remind ourselves that we are already whole as a person. We don’t need to be with someone, we choose to be! As Chiddera Eggerue – my favourite boss lady – once said ‘we are sold romance and relationships as though they are the ‘ultimate goal’. But your own company, with yourself, is just as valuable.’
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I feel this tension in the air as I am expected to celebrate it with somebody else – and I will: with myself. I am going to buy myself a huge bouquet of flowers and go out with my other single ladies. We are going to praise all sorts of love: self-love, friendships, kindness and devotion.