St Valentine’s Day

Now for something different.

It may seem wrong to allude to St Valentine’s Day after the post before this, but a little word on it wouldn’t seem to be going too far astray.

There are a few explanations why St Valentine is associated with this day, the day of true young lovers, those ardently hoping to become betrothed. One explanation I recall is that St Valentine, a priest,  went around Rome marrying young Christian soldiers of the Roman army to their sweethearts, all suitable young gels, in the time of the Emperor Claudius II Gothicus (3rd century) and encouraging them in the Faith. This was all after said Emperor expressly forbade his young soldiers marrying, and that said Valentine suffered martyrdom for so marrying them off.

I personally prefer the version that these middle days of February, being full of the promise of Spring, were the time when the fowls of the air would start to pair off and nest. That this was around the already established feast of St Valentine was a pious and happy convenience. Reference is often made to Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules (Parliament of Fowls):

For this was on Seynt Valentynes day

Whan every foul cometh ther to chese his make,

Of every kinde, that men thynke may;

and that so huge a noyse gan they make,

That erthe and see, and tree, and every lake

So ful was, that unnethe was ther space

For me to stonde, so ful was al the place.

Well St Valentine’s Day certainly has stuck. It has stuck to the extent that it is now a popular time for young lovers also in Asia, where I dwell, in China, Korea, India, the Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia. Thailand and Japan appear particularly afflicted. Also in Malaysia here, where the state Muslim religious authorities do their best to discourage it, as they deem it an unworthy “Christian feast”.

Nevertheless, some of the youngsters here seem to enjoy it, as in this song attempted by a young Malay (or Indonesian) and an ethnically Chinese (?) girl in Taiwan, probably of Indonesian origin. In the song they offer a vote of thanks to love (aww!). In my estimation they are lovely young specimens of the East Asian peoples. That they are not the world’s greatest singers makes them even more endearing. It reminds me of when I was young.

Terima Kasih Cinta

Tersadar di dalam sepiku

Setelah jauh melangkah

Cahaya kasihmu menuntunku

Kembali dalam dekap tanganmu

Terima kasih cinta untuk segalanya

Kau berikan lagi kesempatan itu

Takkan terulang lagi

Semua kesalahanku yang pernah menyakitimu

Tanpamu tiada berarti

Tak mampu lagi berdiri

Cahaya kasihmu menuntunku

Kembali dalam dekap tanganmu

Terima kasih cinta untuk segalanya

Kau berikan lagi kesempatan itu

Takkan terulang lagi

Semua kesalahanku yang pernah menyakitimu

Terima kasih cinta untuk segalanya

Kau berikan lagi kesempatan itu

Takkan terulang lagi

Semua kesalahanku yang pernah menyakitimu

Terima kasih

I realised in my loneliness

After I walked away

That your love’s light was guiding me

Back to your embrace.

So thank you, love, for everything

Love gave me another chance

Never to be repeated are

All my mistakes that so pained you.

Without you, everything has no meaning

I cannot even stand up

And your love’s light guided me

Back to your embrace.

Thank you.

yates_thompson_15_f_9621

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About GC

Poor sinner.
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6 Responses to St Valentine’s Day

  1. kathleen says:

    This is lovely, GC, full of the joyful promise of spring, young love and marriage. With so many attacks on marriage and the family at this time, it”s good to celebrate a saint who promoted them!
    No, nothing wrong at all (IMO) to allude to the saint/martyr, St Valentine, on this, his feast day whatever post might happen to have preceded it 😉.

    Sorry to hear your Malaysian (Muslim) state authorities frown on the celebrating of St Valentine. Is that because it’s a Christian saint’s feast and they discourage all Christian celebrations, or is it because they see it as immoral?

  2. GC says:

    Yes, kathleen, a martyr for true young love and marriage, indeed.

    Dear kathleen, probably all of the above reasons for the banning of St Valentine’s Day celebrations here. It has been suggested also that another reason could be that Queen Isabella, she of the husband-wife team who reconquered all of Spain, was a huge fan of the martyred St Valentine.

    Let’s hear from the Islamic administration at the federal government level here:

    “. . . the practice of celebrating Valentine’s Day is haram and contradicts the teachings of Islam”. The 71st Fatwa Committee of the National Council for Islamic Affairs Malaysia Meeting which was held from 22 to 24 November 2005 concluded that: “The practice of celebrating Valentine’s Day has never been recommended by Islam. The spirit of the celebration has elements of Christianity and the practice, which is mixed with sinful acts, is contradictory and prohibited by Islam. Thus the practice of celebrating Valentine’s Day is not encouraged by Islam”

    Here’s a good local news article on the whole fatwa thing from a year ago:

    http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/pas-youth-valentines-day-against-islam

  3. GC says:

    kathleen, I found this very fair piece of verse written by (Anglican?) Fr Malcolm Guite. Very much to our point here – Valentine, the priest-martyr for connubial love.

    Now you don’t hear all that much about connubial love these days, do you? It seems only like a few gays are theoretically interested in that concept currently. How quaint they seem.

    A Sonnet for St Valentine

    Why should this martyr be the saint of love?

    A quiet man of unexpected courage,

    A celibate who celebrated marriage,

    An ageing priest with nothing left to prove,

    He loved the young and made their plight his cause.

    He called for fruitfulness, not waste in wars,

    He found a sure foundation, stood his ground,

    And gave his life to guard the love he’d found.

    Why should this martyr be our Valentine?

    Perhaps because he kept his covenant,

    Perhaps because, with prayer still resonant,

    He pledged the Bridegroom’s love in holy wine,

    Perhaps because the echo of his name

    Can kindle love again to living flame.

  4. kathleen says:

    Thank you for all this information, GC – very interesting. Though I can’t help worrying about you in your Muslim-majority homeland!
    I know Malaysia is not a country of festering Islamic radicalism, but could things be slowly changing, I wonder? Worldwide we are seeing a worrying increase of both Islamic terrorism and their hatred towards other religions, especially towards Christianity. Surely even the traditionally less fanatical and violent Far East, may become influenced by this growing aggressiveness elsewhere?

    And yes, Father Malcolm Guite is definitely an Anglican 😉!

  5. GC says:

    Fortunately, kathleen, the overall situation would not appear to tolerate a lively jihadist dominance here. Forty percent of the population is not muslim. Any radical Islamist ideology would destroy the nation, which the government well understands. They also have rather good chaps in the Special Branch of the police (trained by the British), who seem to be able to nab any potential suicide bombers and suchlike before they get too close.

    I feel quite safe here, except for the drivers. The muslims here are not Arabs. Far from it, though some here may want to become more “Arab”. They are people who are related to the peoples of the Philippines and the Polynesians of the South Pacific, such as Mr Fisher’s Maoris.The more severe troubles seem to be confined to some of the Arab countries, many thousands of miles away.

  6. kathleen says:

    Dear GC – that’s very good news. In fact you are probably a lot safer on your Golden Chersonese than we are in crazy Europe right now 😉.
    Meaning that we should fear those who are after our souls rather than the body! (Matthew 10:28)

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