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Valentine Day Gifts

February 14th – The day that sets young hearts and the ‘not-so-young’ hearts aflutter with a gazillion emotions coursing through them!!! The month of February has become synonymous with romance, love and all things ‘bright and beautiful’…and not to forget, mushy!!! What better time to whisper sweet nothings into your loved one’s ear than when the new year has just blossomed into the second month of its existence!

Legends – The history behind this day and its patron saint, St. Valentine, are both shrouded in seemingly impenetrable mystery. However, legends about St. Valentine abound aplenty. It is believed that Valentine was a priest who loved in Rome in the 3rd century. Emperor Claudius, II was the ruler of Rome during that period. He came up with an interesting, albeit horrifying decision. The emperor believed, and rightly so, that the soldiers who were not married, who did not have wives and children back home awaiting their return were better suited to war than the ones who had a family to think of. He therefore decreed that the young soldiers in his troop were not to marry! This created quite a panic and the soldiers were aghast at this cruel decision. Legend has it that Valentine was totally against this injustice meted out by the emperor. Valentine started secretly solemnizing the marriages of the young lovers. When this fell on the ears of the emperor, he ordered that Valentine be put to death.

Another legend has it that St. Valentine helped Christian prisoner’s escape from Roman prisons. These prisoners were subjected to all kinds of inhuman torture practices in these prisons. Valentine was jailed for his blasphemy. The story goes that he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter, and was also the first person to send a valentine greeting card! He signed the card as ‘From your Valentine’; an expression that is used to this day by lovers sending cards to their valentines!

Neither the legends, nor the Catholic church, have been able to bring to light the mysterious St. Valentine. The Catholic church has 3 saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus! To complicate matters further, all of them were martyred! It sure looks like the identity of the real St. Valentine is going to be shrouded in a fog for some more time to come, if not forever!

Even though St. Valentine’s Day started off as a Roman and Christian tradition, at this present date, almost all the countries if not all, celebrate February 14th as a day of romance and love with aplomb! As an aside, in India, some people in the arena of politics in particular, have raised objections to the celebration of this day, labeling it to be a Western creation that is against the Indian tradition and culture. In spite of such objections and obstacles, this day continues to be celebrated in India too.

Cupid – Any discussion on love and romance is incomplete without the mention of Cupid, the messenger of love! Cupid is believed to be a young, mischievous fellow, carrying a bag full of love arrows. Love arrows that he aims at people to instill and grow love in them! Quite a handy tool, if you come to think of it! Just aim an arrow at your latest crush and watch him or her lay down their heart at your feet! Quite a thought, if I may say so myself!

As for St. Valentine, lots of stories abound about Cupid also. In Greece, Cupid was known as Eros, the son of Aphrodite, the Goddess of love and beauty. In Rome, he was Cupid, the son of Venus. Cupid is supposed to have fallen in love with a beautiful woman called Psyche. Venus was jealous of Psyche’s beauty and was not at all happy about this union. However, Cupid married her and the two lovers lived in happy matrimony. Unfortunately, there was one glitch in their happiness. As Psyche was a mortal, she was not allowed to look at Cupid’s face. Goaded on by her sisters, she committed the mistake of looking at Cupid, and as a result found herself in an open field. On walking a little, she chanced upon the temple of Venus. Venus, who did not like her, gave her a box and some tasks to perform, each one more difficult than the last. Venus told Psyche not to open the box she was carrying and to bring back the beauty of Prosperine, the wife of Pluto. Psyche was unable to prevent herself from opening the box. Soon, temptation got the better of her and she opened the box, only to fall into a deep slumber. When Cupid found her lying down in a motionless sleep, he forgave her and locked away her slumber in the box. Venus also forgave her.

Scene today – Though the legends and stories behind the celebration of the day of love and romance are captivating, very few of the celebrators today know the existence of such rich folklore. Today, Valentine ’s Day is all about gifts, cards and business. The innumerable card companies that have sprung up in the recent past are proof of this. They cash in on the emotions of the people and offer promotional offers and bargains to further lure young lovers. Sadly, love, like all other things, has been reduced to a business.

On the brighter side however, if you are somebody’s valentine this season, you can rest assured that you will be showered with lovely gifts and cards. Today, the market offers a wide range of gifts and cards to choose from. There are items to suit every budget and style. Here are some links to help you decide what to gift your loved one this season:

Uh-oh! Are you telling me you have no valentine this year! Fear not! You can buy all the lovely things available in the shops for yourself! Come on, a little bit of indulgence has never harmed anyone! Moreover, it is not every day that you get to splurge on yourself! Also, lest you think otherwise, being your own valentine and buying gifts for yourself, is not passé; it is very much in and trendy!

As a parting shot, have my fellow Indians ever wondered why Children’s day (November 14th) comes exactly 9 months after Valentine ’s Day! Sure beats me! (Wink! Wink!)

If you are in love with the idea of love,

While the sun shines, make hay!

Pull up your boots and put on your gloves,

For round the corner, is Valentine’s day!!!