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The ambiguous essence of Valentine's day

12 Feb 2024 at 11:44hrs | Views
As social beings wired for celebration, human life is marked by various milestones. Births are celebrated, puberty initiations are observed in some cultures, weddings announce unions, and even divorces are marked with parties in certain parts of the world. Death, too, is commemorated; in South Africa, "after tears" ceremonies highlight farewells to the departed.

Throughout history, holidays have been created to honor legendary figures in religious, political, and social spheres who have made significant impacts. February 14th, known as Valentine's Day, is a time dedicated to expressing appreciation for friends, family, spouses, and loved ones.

Mandela Day in South Africa holds a more comprehensible significance for me, possibly due to geographical proximity and shared history. However, the identity and contributions of Saint Valentine remain shrouded in uncertainty and inconclusive debates.

Questions persist about Saint Valentine's origins—was he Czech, from the UK (Ireland, Scotland, England), or perhaps French? Various regions claim him as their love standard hero, adding to the mystery.

Within Christian denominations, Catholics assert that February 14th commemorates the martyrdom of Saint Valentine, a Roman priest beheaded in the third century. Yet, there's no consensus on the specifics of his actions or the reasons for his execution.

Was he a healing bishop in Terni, Italy? Or the man who faced capital punishment for attempting to convert Emperor Claudius to Christianity? The answers remain elusive.

Amidst the dynamic nature of culture, one constant is change. While the historical background of Valentine's Day may lack precision, its importance endures. Jesus Christ condensed the commandments into one word—❤ Love—a solution to many worldly problems.

A well-known observation suggests, *when the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.*

However, the commercialization of Valentine's Day has become a multi-billion dollar industry, creating disparities in the ability to express love. Love, though immaterial, is often conveyed through material means.

Encouragement is given to be creative in displaying love—spending time, praying, cooking a simple meal, or engaging in unconventional acts. The essence lies in the significance of the gesture to the recipient.

Research indicates that St. Valentine's act of love was sacrificial. Consider this analogy: in a breakfast of eggs and bacon, the chicken is involved, while the pig is committed. Both may not have been willing participants, but the commitment is evident.

On this Valentine's Day, embrace the spirit of love, understanding that its true essence lies in meaningful gestures rather than commercial extravagance.

Warm regards,
Professor John Carter / Umbuso Manje

Source - Bishop John Carter
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