Mangaluru: It’s once again that time of the year, where controversies involving young lovers and activists of certain political saffron parties are nothing new, but the feeling of ill-will is usually at its peak on February 14 , Valentine’s Day. St Valentine merely wanted to spread the message of love, but lately, his day has become one of possible conflict. As lovers eagerly await to greet their Valentines on February 14, there’s some not-so-pleasing news for them. Roses, one of the essential gifts on Valentine’s Day, are little higher than last year, and also prices of Teddy Bears and other Valentine’s Day tidbits are quite outrageous. But no matter what, lovers who really want to celebrate this day, will go ahead and buy the stuff , forgetting the price matter.
As lovers listen to heart’s whisper and say those three little words with roses and gifts, V-Day spells megabucks for bizland. This year, since Valentine’s Day has fallen on a Sunday, being a holiday for many, you are talking about big time parties at luxury hotels, pubs and social clubs. Some pubs have already planned Valentine’s Day bash on Saturday night- where young couples can share their love for each other through a social get-together. Speaking to Austin and Meghana, students from Manipal lat night at a pub, I asked them how they feel about Valentine’s Day celebrations in Mangalore, they said, ” We wish that we were in Mumbai our hometown, where V-Day celebrations are simply fun and frolic. Here we have been traumatized by saffron groups and not many of our friends want to take a chance to get hurt while having good times. Telling us what to do and what not to do by the members of these outfits is just bul@#@#?. We are having a good time, so also bunch of the revelers here. Happy Valentine’s Day to all who believe in it”
Like the prices of ‘Kumbalakai’ goes up during ‘Ayudha Pooja’- the prices of roses go up during V-Day. Also that this year millions of roses have been exported to Western countries, there has been shortage of roses here, and that’s the reason they have jacked up the prices. A bunch of 8-10 roses will cost around Rs 200-300, and each rose around Rs 25-30. It is learnt, the export of rose stems grown in and around Bengaluru has increased by 20-25 per cent this year, mainly because production of the flower has dropped in major floriculture markets such as Europe and China. This has pushed the prices further up.
“Love birds do not mind to pay around two times usual price of flowers,” giggled another florist at a popular florist shop in Car Street flower market. However, he said many avoid purchasing flowers due to anti-valentine’s squad and Moral-police personnel. The moral police brigade on that day are keeping an eye and youngsters hesitate to purchase flowers to avoid problem. There has already been protests by the saffron group in the city, claiming V-Day as a Western culture-but if you look closely , if these guys are claiming V-Day as Western culture, how come they are wearing western outfits ( Wrangler/Levis jeans pants & TommyHillfiger/CK polo or T-shirts) while burning those V-Day cards. Last year when I asked a damsel from Besant Women’s College about her opinion on the protest, a simple answer came from her, ” I guess these guys don’t have GFs or female friends. Celebrating V-Day don’t have to be intimate or close relationship with the opposite sex-it’s just a Western way as how we celebrate Rakhsha Bandan, I guess?”
Going around the city I saw quite a few young and old people shopping for V-Day cards, roses and other V-Day novelties. But the shopping spree and craze for V-Day items has died down lately, with the present generation using SMSs, email and e-Cards to convey their V-Day greetings. Mariette Cutinha, the lady who introduced the first flower delivery/showroom in the city namely ‘Sentiments florists’ said, ” Business this year for V-Day has been less compared to last couple of years. Since there are restrictions from college management on students not to celebrate V-Day, also threat from saffron groups not to accept western cultures, and also many youngsters opting to send V-Day greetings through mobile text messages, emails and e-Cards has very much affected our business. But we still want to continue and support various traditions that people are still used to, including V-Day, even though we don’t make big profits. V-Day has been good, but could have been better, if not for all these anti-elements”. In the meantime, I saw Mariette’s twin sons, Carl and Dave showing some intimate love towards the “Teddy Bears”
Talking about Teddy Bears- Does anyone actually want a Teddy Bear for Valentine’s Day? Given the many ways a man can screw up Valentine’s Day, forgetting to make dinner rezzies, buying lingerie one size too large, wrongfully assuming you’re not celebrating -gifting a teddy bear is up there. The idea of a woman who is not a toddler getting excited over an expensive stuffed toy wearing a shirt that reads, “You keep me hugging” and no pants, is both childish and infantilizing. Yet, for some reason, the bear market is booming. It’s no surprise that Teddy is so popular, given how men are encouraged to approachValentine’s Day. No matter how expensive they are, with prices ranging from Rs 800- Rs 1500, dudes still buy their sweethearts these cute little stuffed bears. Let’s be clear: Teddy bears are for children and hospital visits (only if they’re attached to a fruit basket or a set of balloons). They’re not to be confused with sexy time like V-Day, got it guys. I would give a big bunch of roses than a stuffed Bear?
Favorite Collections had a steady flow of customers who came to buy V-Day and other novelties, and I had the opportunity to talk to many of them. Naresh Singh, student of Kasturba Medical College who had bought a mega-size V-Day card, has also plans to take his sweetheart for a “candle-light” dinner at a cozy and elegant restaurant. Roshan, a IT employee also had bought a mega-size V-Day card. Roshan and his would-be life partner had fallen in love 2 years ago while working together at the same IT firm, and he has plans to marry his fiancee next year. He had the V-Day card wrapped in a red foil paper, to be presented to her when she comes down to Mangaluru on 16 Feb- his fiancee works in Bengaluru.. He has plans to take her to the beach, and spend a cozy and lovely evening at a nice restaurant.
Shy but bold, Susan who didn’t mind sharing her comments was all set to hand over her V-Day gift to her hubby Shawn this evening. Susan had bought heart-shaped miniature pillows for her husband, although her husband doesn’t believe in V-Day- this is her first V-Day gift to her hubby since they got married last year. What’s awaiting her as a V-Day from Shawn will be a surprise-could be a glittering jewel or a romantic dinner at a fancy restaurant or it could be just a hug and a smooch ! Edwin Cutinho, who owns Favorite Collections said, ” By the grace of God business has been good, and V-Day sales are much better than last year. We have been in card and novelties business since 29 years, and customers shop here for all special days and occasions”.
To sum it all, Valentine’s Day is traditionally a way to celebrate the romance in your life, but it’s also a good way to show friends how much you value them. There are as many ways to do this as there are friendships, and no way is right or wrong. With some friends, you might give a card to say “Happy Valentine’s Day,” while with others you might go all out with a big party. There are different ways to celebrate V-Day- pick one and celebrate. Happy Valentine’s Day !
I end this column with the modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):
The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it should be you.
HISTORY OF VALENTINE’S DAY :
The history of Valentine’s Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. The holiday’s roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine’s Day.
Which St. Valentine this early pope intended to honor remains a mystery: according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and of a third St. Valentine almost nothing is known except that he met his end in Africa. Rather astonishingly, all three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14.
Most scholars believe that the St. Valentine of the holiday was a priest who attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II around 270. At this stage, the factual ends and the mythic begins. According to one legend, Claudius II had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies but was eventually apprehended by the Romans and put to death. Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed “from your Valentine.” Probably the most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not focused on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion.
In 1969, the Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar, removing the feast days of saints whose historical origins were questionable. St. Valentine was one of the casualties.
Chaucer’s Love Birds
It was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. According to UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was Chaucer who first linked St.Valentine’s Day with romance.
In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England’s Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. As was the poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day. In “The Parliament of Fowls,” the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine’s Day are linked:
For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.
Tradition of Valentine’s Cards
Over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine’sDay had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine’s cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them. Today, of course, the holiday has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines.