The celebration of St Valentine’s day on February 14 is one of courtly love. The historical reality of St Valentine has some similarities to the reality of earthly love as there is some doubt that Valentine was one man, but possibly that two saintly men were martyred on this day from whom the name Valentine was generated.
It is to the English Chaucerian era that we must look for the creation of romance in connection with St Valentine. However, in that period, romance had its linkage with the concept of courtly love, a form of love that usually excluded connection of the flesh. The love of a lady at a distance seems to have left both parties in a state of unrequited passion, but gave authors and composers an open page for creation of romance in verse and song.
The gradual development of ‘Valentinian’ love into ‘Erotic’ love seems to have been associated with gifting that commenced in Victorian England. The connection of physical gifts, whether just heart shapes as became the norm for Valentine’s Day or more expensive trinkets of diamonds and gold, makes an obvious linkage with love of the flesh.
Yet after ‘Americanisation’ of Valentine’s Day created another world-wide gifting ‘spendfest’ parallelling Christmas and Easter, maybe it is to the Americans that we can turn for the opportunity to reduce the value of Valentine’s Day through that technique of marketing mastery – trivialization of the great.
And who but Marc Zuckerberg have we to thank for trivializing all emotions and human contacts. The glory of Facebook is that every pre-pubescent girl is sending hundreds of hearts, hugs and kisses to every second person who becomes a casual acquaintance – Facebook, where to win means maximizing the number of people who ‘love’ you. Facebook love, so easy to access, so prevalent for all, is just the opposite of true love and 180 degrees opposed to Valentinian love.
From an arithmetic viewpoint it must be challenging for a girl who sends 16 kisses one day to a new friend to know how many to send to her latest boyfriend, connected one week ago, and for each of them to know how to value those gargantuan commitments in the lifetime of heart swapping sponsored by Mr Zuckerberg’s behemoth.