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Valentine or Vanity in Vain?


In the year 2021 it is estimated that Americans spent a total of US $ 21.8 Billion in one way or the other on Valentines Day! Statistics are not readily available for the Indian market. However, a close perusal of the increased traffic on "Ferns & Petals", "My Flower Tree" or gifts on "Amazon" & "Flipkart" indicate a phenomenal spending increase in the run up to 14 February.


A so-called festival of love is also the opportunity to project aggressive nationalism in multiple ways. A strong call flooded social media to make the day as "Homage to Pulwama". For many years the reality and dark humour has been the guardians of culture traversing the pathways and parks in target of young couples seeking silent amorous moments. The valentines find the experience fairly violent.


The transition of hop-scotch that Valentines Day has turned into begets a journey back in time to the origins of the festivities. Legend has it that Valentines Day traces its genesis to Rome of early history in the festivities of Lupercalia. This took place around the dates of February 13th to 15th. It involved a ritual sacrifice of goats and dogs. The hides of the sacrificed animals would be turned into multi-pronged whips. In a macabre rite to the modern eye, women were whipped with these sacrificial whips in the belief that this would enhance their fertility. Maybe this was an early inspiration of Fifty Shades of.....! In a more digestible part of this story is the part that here was also a unique lottery. Men would draw names of listed women from a jar and spend the remainder of the festivities with the winning prize.



Legend has it that in the 3rd Century CE there came along a Roman priest and physician who took upon himself to help single men get married and avoid going to war for a year. Emperor Claudius II ordered this Bishop of Terni to be arrested and executed. It is said that Valentine, while in jail, took a liking to the blind daughter of the jailor. She is said to have been healed and received a letter signed. "from your Valentine!" The execution happened on February 14th.


In the 5th Century CE, Pope Gelasius abolished the pagan rituals of Lupercalia and the celebration of the feast of St Valentine. With the early rituals coming to an end, the celebrations turned more in the nature of romance and gift giving. Towards the 14th Century CE, different form of greeting cards and hearts were associated with the Valentines Day celebrations, while retaining the romantic genre.


In the recent decades, there is an explosive rise in commercial sales associated with Valentines Day. It started with Hallmarks and Archies Cards and has subsequently spawned a range of digital market. Even amidst the pandemic, the American estimate on "Valentine Evening" is expected to cross US $ 4.3 Billion!


Valentines Day has come to represent the vain opportunity of a gift and giving market where almost every day of the calendar is some "Day"! Well, as long as it is not "Violentine" Day we can tolerate the commercial aspect and choose to be a part or not. Will you bemoan in vain or be attentive to your Valentine?


King Solomon, said to be the wealthiest, wisest and surrounded by many women in his life, said these words of deep wisdom at the later stage of his life:

" I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun."

Should any reader of this article wish to go beyond the symbology of Cards and Festivals, do not hesitate to reach out at ceo@johnsonodakkal.com to find why and how you and your life has meaning.



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