Keep Valentine in Valentine’s Day


A high court in Islamabad apparently just banned public celebrations of Valentine’s Day in the Pakistani capital on the urging of a petitioner who argued that the occasion is being used as a “cover” to spread “immorality, nudity and indecency… which is against our rich traditions and values”. The ruling also instructs electronic and print media to stop promoting the holiday.

Allah forbid there be one day a year we celebrate love for one another, and men give women flowers and chocolates, and take them to dinner. I particularly like the crossed heart and the crossed Cupid on the signs in the picture above. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

Meanwhile, “in Malaysia, where Islam is also the dominant religion, a group called The National Muslim Youth Association urged females to avoid using emoticons and an excessive amount of fragrance in a pre-Valentine’s Day message.” Cross emoticons too.

Personally I’m just waiting until the Islamists discover that Valentine’s Day is not just some decadent Western celebration of immorality between the sexes, but originated as a feast day in the Catholic Church calendar, commemorating the martyrdom of St Valentine (no, not that sort of “martyrdom”; St Valentine did not blow anyone up as far as we know).

Not much is known about the saint, but the tradition has him as a Bishop of Terni in Umbria, in Italy, during the 3rd century. He was arrested for being a Christian but managed to miraculously restore sight to the judge’s blind daughter and convert the judge and his household instead. Later denounced again for preaching, this time directly to emperor Claudius Gothicus, he initially befriended the emperor but eventually incurred his wrath by trying to convert him too. On the emperor’s orders, Valentine was publicly beaten with clubs and then beheaded outside Rome’s Flaminian Gate on 14 February 269.

The association of St Valentine’s with love, courtly or otherwise, is a medieval invention of Chaucer and latter “antiquaries”. Having said that, you can see a few elements of relevance: the blind date with judge’s daughter, losing one’s head for love (albeit of Christ), even the ubiquitous 69.

In any case, as global stocks of chocolate and roses get depleted, restaurants find ever new ways to gouge customers, and tens of millions of men and women around the world prepare to commercially jubilate their love, let us all remember that what we are really celebrating today is a man being beaten to death and beheaded.

Now, that might actually get the Islamists excited about Valentine’s Day!