Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentine Day - ignoble origin but a big business now!

Valentine's Day has become a big thing in recent decades all around the globe. When I left Bangladesh for higher studies in North America more than three decades ago, very few people inside my native country had heard of the event. Not any more! With the Internet and global connectivity, there is such a copycat culture these days that all such events, which have no cultural ties, are seen as acceptable features. Cards are sold and distributed that says: will you be my valentine?

Very few are aware of the ignoble origin of the Valentine Day. 
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics "were drunk. They were naked," says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.

As Pauline Christians moved west and settled in the heart of the pagan Roman Empire, and gradually transformed the empire into a Christian one, esp. since the days of Emperor Constantine (325 CE), it went through a process of give-and-take. Many of the pagan customs and cultures were adopted by the nascent Christian community, including celebrating the Lupercalia, which was to become the Valentine's Day. It was a way of assimilation for them to fit into the pagan Roman society. 

Today, the Valentine's holiday is big business: According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine's Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year's sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.

Here are two articles, which are worth reading for our interested readers. One is from the NPR, and other from my friend's website.

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