FEBRUARY is the month of love and the hopeless romantics must be looking forward to nothing but love, romance and a little chocolate indulgence.
On Valentine’s Day, observed on February 14 each year, lovers spoil each other and express just how much they love and appreciate their better half.
But why do people go through all the trouble anyway?
St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one early Christian saint named Valentinus. Several martyrdom stories were invented for the various Valentines that belonged to February 14, and added to later martyrologies.
A popular hagiographical account of Saint Valentine of Rome states that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire.
According to legend, during his imprisonment, he healed the daughter of his jailer, Asterius. An embellishment to this story states that before his execution he wrote her a letter signed “Your Valentine” as a farewell.
Today, Saint Valentine’s Day is an official feast day in the Anglican Communion, as well as in the Lutheran Church. The Eastern Orthodox Church also celebrates Saint Valentine’s Day.
The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending greeting cards known as “valentines”. The tradition has cascaded to Africa and Zimbabwe is no exception.
Valentine’s Day symbols that are used today include the heart-shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid.