11th February, 2011
The Saint Valentine’s Day, famously known as Loversâ€™ Day is around the corner once again. Nigerians,Â like their counterparts in other parts of the world have been shopping for gift items for theirÂ lovers. Some have even booked hotel rooms, while others have been thinking of that posh rendezvousÂ where their partners will be given a one in a lifetime treat. But is that the significance of the StÂ Valentine’s Day after all?
To an average Nigerian, the 14 February date is a day meant to be spent with the opposite sex at bars,Â night clubs and perhaps, behind closed doors. And this belief seems to have been the order of the dayÂ from one generation to the other.
Medical doctors have confirmed that after St. Valentine’s Day, they record more cases of unwantedÂ pregnancies, and sadly enough too, abortions, mostly among teenagers. Such is the case of Lara [notÂ real name] that lost her precious asset- virginity, all in a bid to â€˜make it upâ€™ to her boyfriend onÂ St. Valentineâ€™s Day. She got pregnant weeks later and had no choice than to go for an abortion. ThatÂ was imperative because the guy in question was just a final year secondary school student.
In her confessional statement, Lara acknowledged the fact that as a young girl, she was actuallyÂ blind-folded with the razzmatazz attached to Valâ€™s Day. According to her, â€œthe impression most of usÂ had then was that it is a day when you must be with your boyfriend, and perhaps, have sex in theÂ process. Some of my friends also had similar problems that I had because we believed it was a sin toÂ say â€˜noâ€™ to your boyfriend on Valâ€™s Day. That is why I have taken it as a duty to be sensitizing ourÂ youths, the female ones in particular, about the significance of Val’s Day.â€
Thank God, Lara is now a counsellor, but what if she had her womb damaged or even died fromÂ complications resulting from the abortion?Â Apparently, there are thousands of Nigerian teenagers thatÂ have found themselves in such difficult situation simply because they have no proper orientation ofÂ what or how the St. Valentine’s Day should be celebrated.
Ignorantly, some guys would look for flimsy excuses to quarrel with their girlfriends, simply becauseÂ they canâ€™t afford to buy them the best gifts or they donâ€™t have the financial ability to trip them atÂ Silverbird Galleria or Shoprite among other posh fun havens.
In respect of this, popular comedian, Julius Agwu said if you must celebrate Val with your femaleÂ partner, you donâ€™t necessarily need to buy her the most expensive gift or take her to a place that isÂ beyond your financial capability.
â€œBut you can show that you appreciate her with good poems, greeting cards, or even send a creativeÂ mobile text message to her. The whole idea of it is to let the person know that you appreciate him orÂ her,â€ Agwu reiterated.
While some guys have blamed the situation on Nigerian ladies, who are more demanding, unlike theirÂ White counterparts, ladies described men who find themselves in such mess as lousy ones.
According to Efe Imafidon, a club DJ, â€œin abroad, guys give their partners anything like flowers andÂ greeting cards as Val giftsâ€¦it could even be a simple hug and the lady would be in cloud nine, but inÂ Nigeria, the reverse is the case. The only card a Nigerian girl will collect from you now is rechargeÂ card. She would see you as the biggest fool if you present her a greeting card or flower.â€
But as for Lola Omotayo, it would be wrong to generalise on this matter because there are stillÂ Nigerian ladies that appreciate simple gifts from people on such occasions. She made reference to whenÂ her relationship with Peter Okoye of P Square fame started.
Lola said she fell in love with the music star because on a particular Val’s Day, â€œhe was the firstÂ person that came to my house. When I opened the door after hearing the door bell ring, I was surprisedÂ to see him. He only came with a guitar and played one of his love songs to me. I actually felt soÂ special that day.â€
Perhaps, because of the varying opinions as to the origin of St. Valentineâ€™s Day, many people seem toÂ have lost grip on its significance, particularly as it relates to modern day norms.
There are varying opinions as to the origin of St. Valentineâ€™s Day. Some experts state that itÂ originated from St. Valentine, a Roman who was martyred for refusing to give up Christianity. He diedÂ on 14 February, 269 A.D., the same day that had been devoted to love lotteries. It was also said thatÂ St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailerâ€™s daughter, who had become his friend, and signedÂ it, â€œFrom Your Valentine.â€ Other aspects of the story say that Saint Valentine served as a priest atÂ the temple during the reign of Emperor Claudius. Claudius then had Valentine jailed for defying him.Â And in 496 A.D. Pope Gelasius set aside 14 February to honour St. Valentine.
Over time, 14 February has become the date for exchanging love messages as a celebration of St.Â Valentine. The date is actually marked by sending poems and simple gifts, such as flowers, to lovedÂ ones. It should, however, be noted that loved ones being referred to here are not necessarily theÂ opposite sex. It could be anybody, irrespective of class, race and status.
Even teenagers are not left out of this exercise. Some of them get cards and present them to friendsÂ at school. St. Valentine’s Day is also a day where warring friends are expected to settle theirÂ disputes and become new friends.
Just like popular singer, Emmanuel â€˜Kahaâ€™ Nzemeke, who said for some years now, the St.Valentine’s DayÂ has served as a day when he settled quarrels with friends. In hisÂ belief, St. Valentine’s Day isÂ meant to be celebrated by showing love to everybody around him and to also settle quarrels.
Kaha didnâ€™t grow up with this impression because according to him, â€œas a growing up guy, I used toÂ think that it is a day when you are expected to have sex or do all manner of things with yourÂ girlfriend. But later, after reading some books, I realised that I had misinterpreted what the day isÂ meant to be. And ever since, I have been celebrating it at the orphanage, showing love to the kidsÂ there. You may not necessarily go there with bags of rice and all that, but the fact that youÂ associate yourself with them goes a long way.â€
He swiftly added, â€œIâ€™m not saying that you should not also give your spouse a gift, but that aspect ofÂ sex is what people need to change their orientation about. She may even feel more delighted visitingÂ the orphanage with you.â€
In Nigeria, St. Valentine’s season is one of the most popular, particularly among the youths. TheyÂ mostly mark it by organising gigs, visiting night clubs and other fun places with their boyfriends orÂ girlfriends. The dress code is usually white and red, or better still, any dress with a touch ofÂ either of the colours. These colours have been identified as the symbol ofÂ St. Valentineâ€™s Day.
It all started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, 14 February was a holiday to honourÂ Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman gods and goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the goddess ofÂ women and marriage. The next day is the feast of Lupercalia.
The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the youngÂ people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival ofÂ Lupercalia the names of Roman girls wereÂ written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girlâ€™s name from the jarÂ and they would then be partners for the duration of the festival. Sometimes, the pairing of theÂ children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.
Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II, Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns.Â Claudius was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed thatÂ the reason was that Roman men did not want to leave their lovers or families. As a result, ClaudiusÂ cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome.
The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aidedÂ the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine wasÂ apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubsÂ and to have his head cut off.
He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270. At that time, it was the customÂ in Rome, a very ancient custom, indeed, to celebrate in the month of February, the Lupercalia feastsÂ in honour of a heathen god.
On these occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names of young women were placed in aÂ box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed.
The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element inÂ these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia beganÂ about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentineâ€™s Day for theÂ celebration of this new feast. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens forÂ Valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year arose in this way. marry a millionaire.