How about caring and humor instead of wine and roses?

By Ludy A. Ongkeko, Ph.D.

Long ago and far away, the name “Valentine” or “Valentinus” emerged. That nomenclature started it all.

Valentine, a priest known to have helped secret marriages of young couples in Rome during the third century, struck the ire of Emperor Claudius III who outlawed such marriages. That sovereign believed single young men made better soldiers. On receiving word about Valentine’s participation in secret ceremonies, he gave orders that Valentine should be killed.

Legend reiterates that Valentine was sent to prison instead of an “instant death sentence.” While incarcerated, Valentine developed a close friendship with a young girl who visited him; before his execution around 270 A.D., Valentine’s letter to his friend said: “From your Valentine.”

Why Valentine’s Day in February? History says Valentine was put to death in February. In the year 498, Pope Gelasius officially selected Valentine’s Day to be observed each February 14th. In 1415, Charles, the Duke of Orleans imprisoned in the Tower of London after his defeat at the Battle of Agincourt, wrote “touching greetings” to his wife, considered to represent the oldest recorded Valentine note.

Valentine’s Day grew in popularity in Great Britain during the 17th and 18th centuries, thus the focus on February 14. Small notes and other tokens of affection drew prominence.

Since Valentine’s Day is just around the bend, may this be a reminder for couples to remember one another on the day. Already, the February 13th issue of Newsweek devoted the space to “Gifts to Love.” One enumerated “For Newlyweds” caught this writer’s attention with the description: “If you want real champagne, it will be French, without too much acidity and not too sweet.”

Just for newlyweds? How about those who have decades behind them?

Love is basic in terms of the continuum that characterizes marriages that morph into what defines the strength that keeps such unions steadfast over time. One can begin with that noun, but it carries more than fervor.

How about caring, patience, respect, consideration, responsibility, laughter, family awareness, kindness, assurance, thoughtfulness, perseverance and an inexhaustible sense of humor when matters look obscure? The list of enhancements can go on and on. Yet, there’s nothing that can be a substitute for mutual understanding of life partnerships to include family, in-laws, friends, neighbors, indeed, their community in general. Loving one’s better-half does not push for requirements. He/she has that inimitable style all his/her own.

One of the most-read dailies in a metropolis announced: “Love and money flow on Valentine’s Day.” That is but an observation. What if money is not around?

Portions of the same commentary: “Romantic couples will spend an average of $146.52 on Valentine’s Day dinner dates, per restaurant ratings guide Zagat, compared to a typical meal for two of about $70.00.” The same Zagat famous quote: “On Valentine’s Day, budgets go out the window.”

The National Retail Federation reports: “Overall, the average consumer will spend $126.03 on Valentine’s Day, 2012,” considered in a decade as the “highest, and up to 8.5 percent from 2011 – a total of $17.6 billion, thanks to the improving economy and increased consumer spending power.”

Since it is just days away, may this be a simple reminder: Remembrances need not be carried to the most tangible, ever-materialistic manner. Couples do have their own interpretations of Valentine’s Day. As long as the day is remembered, observed in the way folks have their preferences, February 14 will be seen as Lover’s Day. A sense of optimism is all-pervading when pre-Valentine practices represent initiatives to mark the day.

My husband suggests: How about that small note accompanying the simple act of remembering with one rosebud? It can and will suffice until the next Valentine’s Day comes along. Or, as he continues to say: Fortunate are those from my gender who thought of changing their civil status on Valentine’s Day. They are excused when it comes to celebrating a wedding anniversary and Valentine’s Day all rolled into one.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all readers of The FilAm!

Ludy Astraquillo Ongkeko, Ph.D. is a product of two educational systems: the University of the Philippines (public) where she earned her bachelor degrees (science and arts) as a college scholar and the University of Southern California’s Graduate School (private). Her professional career in journalism started at the Manila Bulletin in her native Philippines. “Forty Years of Writing in America” published in 2009 is a compendium of her life in the U.S. as a writer, teacher and mentor.

One Comment

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Enjoyed reading this article about the origin of Valentine’s Day and what it is all about in our age.

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