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Much Ado About Valentine

Hey, Valentine is in the air. February 14 is a day that is set aside to celebrate love. But first, what is love? Love is the consuming passion for the well-being of others, love is called out of one’s heart as a response to the pleasure one takes in a person or object. It is a quiet, unshakable feeling within someone which rests on something close to them and that they feel good about.

The day was named after the legend Saint Valentine, a priest from Rome in the third century AD, who was imprisoned for arranging marriage in secret, after Emperor Claudius 11 had banned soldiers from marriage, for the reason that married men made bad soldiers. The prisoner, St Valentine fell in love with the prison guard’s daughter, and had a letter sent to her on his execution day which he signed as “From your Valentine”.

Now that we understand its history, it is my opinion that we may have gone wrong in the way we celebrate love.

Love in itself goes beyond the carnival of white and red that goes around on the streets. It is more than the business making aspects of the day where gift shops, malls, beaches, photography studios, etc. amass wealth by turning it into a lucrative profit-making mantra. It obviously exceeds the promo, discount prices we are sure to get on the day for every gift item, restaurant reservation, or cakes we order.  It’s not just about sharing gifts with our perfect someone or giving gifts to our children. Love extends beyond schools mandating our children to exchange gifts with classmates and teachers.

The love story does not happen in one day; it may perhaps begin with a Valentine celebration. It surpasses the concept of meeting the opposite sex, receiving gifts, going on dates that may perhaps lead to pregnancy.  It goes beyond throwing our hearts into depression because we do not have a valentine or a ‘galantine’ to celebrate with. It really isn’t about February 14 or nothing.

Moreover, love is surely not how it is painted in the movies, nor is it how Valentine is projected in the media from Bella Naija to, to our daily “Instastories”. It is not about desperately pretending to be in a happy relationship even when we are hurt just to celebrate the day with others. Or, listening to romantic songs, just so we inhale the love air. More often than not, taking selfies with borrowed partners just so everyone thinks that we are not left out.

If you do not know where you are headed, you can be sure where you are. In the matter of love, rather than focusing on what is not important, let’s agree on what love encompasses.

Love should be our innate true nature. Love should be about loving our neighbors, about caring for our friends and enemies, giving gifts to the needy, taking care of the aged, showing kindness, expressing appreciation to others among many other things.

Love truly.

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Adepeju Adenuga

Adepeju Adenuga is a writer (considering where you are reading this, makes perfect sense). She holds a Masters Degree in Literature in English from the University of Lagos.

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