There are many stories behind the day of Valentine's, but the most known story is that of Saint Valentine or Valentinus who stood against Emperor Claudius II. The emperor outlawed marriage for young soldiers because he believed they made better fighters without wives.
Valuing Love above everything else as being the source of all goodness, the priest Valentinus defied the emperor's direct orders and performed marriages for young couples in secret. When Claudius found out, he beheaded him on a February 14th for disobeying him.
In the collective minds of humanity, Valentinus, who was later declared a Saint by the church, became a synonym of Love, and that's what Valentine's Day is really about. A celebration of human Love in all its beautiful and noble aspects.
For some reason, mostly commercial, the day became known in recent decades as a celebration of lovers or couples.
Yet, the celebration isn't restricted to them by a long shot. It's actually unrestricted like Love is, and it covers all those we love and those deserving to be loved.
In fact, the Greeks distinguished four types of love: Storge, Philia, Eros, and Agape:
- Storge stands for the familial love, the love we carry to those from our blood.
- Philia indicates friendship's love; the positive feeling we have for our good or best friends.
- Eros stands for passion and desire.
- Agape stands for the ultimate love; offering love and virtue without nothing in return. Agape refers also to "the love of God for humankind, and of humankind for God."
Hence, let Valentine's day this year, and onward, be our opportunity to express our love and appreciation to the people we love and those who have loved us by making a positive impact in our life.
Here are those we believe need to be included in our Happy Valentine's list for a loving gesture on February 14th:
#1 The people who raised us
Our parents, who have given us everything out of love, unconditionally, every day as we grew up under their protective wings and watchful caring eyes.
The sacrifices they've made, the hardships they've gone through, the unconditional love they've bestowed upon us, the tears they've dried from our faces, the pain they've taken away from us, and the list is infinite.
#2 Our siblings
There is something deeply meaningful in the Lebanese language: Our cry of pain Akh, means literally brother and, somehow, it's a thing we first scream when in pain, intuitively calling on a sibling for help and comfort.
Whether we believe that or not, we know that our siblings are the first we go to for support and to confide in, and they are the first who run to us when they know we are in trouble. So, to our brothers and sisters, with whom we fight and whom we love so dearly, Happy Valentine's!
#3 Our grandparents
How can we ever forget that our teta and jeddo are the reason we exist; the breeders of our parents who bred us? They are these caring and affectionate folks who show only love to us without judgment and without intervening in our personal "business."
#4 Our good friends
These best friends we have, who have seen our darkest days or our not-so-nice side and have still chosen to stay, who've proven loyal whatever what, who've been always there lending us a shoulder to lean on, who are quick to forgive our trespasses, who love us with our flaws, and who are always there sharing our laughter and joys.
These friends, they are the Philia in our life. So text them a nice Happy Valentine's greeting on the 14th or, even better, call them now and plan how to celebrate Valentine together. Here are some ideas for you.
#5 Our local store owners
Thank you 3ammo khodarje (vegetable store owner) for giving me a red apple every morning to school and wishing me a good day with a sincere smile, and thank you 3ammo el dekkanje for patiently waiting an hour for me to decide which size of Unica to buy, and insisting I be careful in the streets.
Yes, yes, these daily familiar people who have been part of our life for so many years, and who've shown us their love in small ways. Let's wish them love on this day!
#6 Our long time neighbors
By neighbors, I do not only mean the Em Kamal you drink your morning coffee and gossip about Em Wassim's son with, but also the neighbor living in the apartment above yours who always spread their laundry right above your balcony leaving a pond behind.
After all, they are the ones who check on us when someone is sick at home, and the ones we go to for an 'urgent' spoon of sugar. So, happy Valentine's!
#7 The ones left behind
Wishing Love to those strangers left behind is a simple matter of expressing our humanity, and what better day than Valentine's to step out of our comfort zone and make that extra effort!
A meal, a kind gesture, a conversation, a cup of coffee, or any token of acknowledgment; for those left behind in the streets, it will mean a lot. It will warm their hearts and give them hope in humanity. That's, after all, simple human love.
#9 The caring mentor
They might be that particular teacher or a tutor or a coach who is sincerely going out of the way to influence you positively. If you are lucky enough to have one or some in your life now, add them to your Valentine's list, for this is a good opportunity to wish them love in appreciation.
#10 Our thoughtful supervisors
Some bosses are really super cool and, although they have to enact authority, we love the way they enact thoughtfullness with us at work:
The boss who tells us to go home early when we are overwhelmed, or who doesn't shy away from showing appreciation to our good work, or who turns the other way when we submit a sick leave with a "Lebanese" doctor's prescription; or all of these combined (it usually is).
#11 Our extended family
No matter how much you try avoiding your 3amto who lives in Sweden, you will always have to see her in Eid or Christmas, and she will always ask you why are you still unmarried. Cheers to the 30+ family members that will always have our backs throughout the year and will always stand beside us during our troubles.
#12 The humans whose lives we can save
The gift of life, that's the gift of ultimate love. We give it to people whom we don't even know and don't even see, but just there in our hearts, we know that, nonetheless, we are all interconnected and interrelated for being humans on earth.
Hence, that gift of love called blood donation is a pure human beauty, a nobility of top scale, a gift of no cost on us yet priceless. This Valentine's, head to a Red Cross center, and love a human fellow you'll never see by donating blood.
#16 Our Agape
While we don't deem this under people's category, it remains nonetheless that if you are a believer, this is your Agape special day in which you celebrate "the love of God for humankind, and of humankind for God." A spiritual love that ought to reflect in everything we do.
#16 Our Lebanon
In many ways, we do tend to refer to Lebanon as a living person and, in this exceptional phase in which our beloved Lebanon is grappling to rise again, let's show him our love, for he has bred us, sheltered us, fed us, nurtured us, and loved us, and he's needing us the most now.
May our land heal, our flag rise the highest, our cedar strengthen further, and our people come to love him above all. Happy Valentine's, Lebanon!