February is a month that stands out from the other 11 months in a year. Yes, the fact that it has 28 days for three years in a row is one very obvious reason. The other reason that makes February stand out is a date that neatly slices the month in two and celebrates a tradition called Valentine’s Day. A day that makes women see red everywhere and makes men see red too, though not in the same way as women do.
Valentine’s Day that is celebrated on the 14th of February, is a day on which lovers express their love for each other by exchanging cards, gifts and flowers.
Legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realising the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
The day Valentine died, February 14, 269 A.D. is celebrated as Valentine’s Day.
Starting on February 1, it gets almost impossible to get anywhere without spotting banners that are fluttering in the air announcing the arrival of Valentine’s Day. In case you might have had the off-chance of having missed spotting the banners in the daytime, strategically blinking neon signs helpfully glow in the night to remind you of the same. And if you were dense enough to miss the fluttering and glowing announcements of V Day, then every shop window has everything from mugs to rugs and almost each article either splattered with plump red hearts or in every shade of red.
If you’ve just crawled out from under a rock and missed all of the above, there are beaming sales people deploying perfume-spewing weaponry or stuffed teddies holding on for dear life to little hearts, in your face. And if those don’t interest you, you are enthusiastically guided to other latest, and pricey, Valentine Special stock of the fortnight.
As mid-February rolls around, across the world, women begin fantasising about candlelit celebrations involving hours of intense eye gazing, mushy poetic greeting cards, copious amounts of gifts and sodden-with-love declarations. [If it’s a leap year, some brave ones hope for bent-on-knee proposals too as it’s an old wives tale that if you wed in a leap year, your marriage will be forever and an exceptionally blissful one.]
Men, on the other hand, most probably go over their bankbooks and after incessantly cursing the chubby, barely-clothed, armed with a bow and arrow cherub “Cupid” begrudgingly fork over hard-earned money for overpriced foliage, fancy dinners and gifts that their other half has been helpfully dropping broad hints about for the past six months, if not more. [“Darling, aren’t these diamond earrings lovely!” “I love the fragrance of the newest perfume in the market!” “How lucky Mrs Mehta is to have her own car!”]
The only people who most probably both look forward to and benefit from this consumer holiday seem to be the greeting card companies and the chocolate and flower industries who in all probability rub their hands in glee while laughing all the way to the bank.
“Say you don’t need diamond ring and I’ll be satisfied
Tell me that you want the kind of thing that money just can’t buy
I don’t care too much for money, money can’t buy me love”
sang The Beatles
If only they knew.