Valentine, Love & Marriage

Valentine is one of the few festivals people around the world can celebrate together. There are total 209 million pages about Valentine on the Internet. In terms of number of greeting cards sent, it is also the second most celebrated festival after Christmas. Roses, chocolates, angel Cupid and candlelight-dinners are inseparable ingredients of this cherished festival. No one wants to be the last person to express his or her love. And do you know where did Valentine’s Day come from? There are more than a dozen of different stories: In the Church’s version, 14th of February was honored by Roman Catholic Church in remembrance of several martyrs. On the other hand, many believed the first romantic reference to Valentine was from Parlement of Foules (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer. In a rather dramatic version from Belarus, Saint Valentine, upon the rejection from his mistress, presented his own heart as a proof of his undying love to her. In another widely accepted version from Legenda Aurea, Saint Valentine was a priest who had performed marriage ceremony for young couples against the existing law which prohibited marriage. Sir. Shakespeare also used Valentine to convey love in Hamlet (ACT IV, scene 5).

Although the validity of the origin of Valentine’s Day may be dubious, the earnestness of shop keepers to sell you more chocolates, flowers and greeting cards is authentic. The romance relevance of Valentine’s Day has been widely and firmly appreciated. The sweetness of chocolates and the aroma of roses are increasingly being used as synonyms of love. But are they really love? If not, then what is love? Is there a distinguished line among love, emotional surge and lust? In Slumdog Millionaire, the love Jamal has for Latika; the love which Juliet and Romeo held dearer than their lives; The love of Mumtaz bestowed Shah Jahan comfort during his captivity; it is the love made Jack sacrifice his life for Rose. Those are what we dreamed of love – beautiful and eternal. However elusive it may be, no one can deny its existence. It is a promise to happiness, an oath to stand together in difficult times and a lyrical ballad of the erstwhile times. In Jamal’s word, it is destiny.

Like all the other beautiful things having its limitations, love is not always romantic. It does not escape the daily grueling of life’s challenges. The ultimate test of love is marriage, the sacred unification of two individuals. But rather than being a passage to the assumed paradise, many marriages fail. How can something people longed desperately for and believed in so deeply collapse? And since a majority of failed marriage were love marriages, many started seeking miracles in arranged marriages. They believed couples are born to be. And the only missing link is largely determined by which time and where people were born. Advocates of arranged marriage always boast over lower divorce rate compared to that of love marriage. But they forget to mention the “happiness rate”. How many “successful” arranged marriages are happy marriages? While couples in love marriage usually enjoy the liberty to separate if they don’t love each other anymore; couples in arranged marriages do not. They usually are being put under tremendous pressure from both families to remain bonded. That they had been blindfolded when they married did not excuse them from bearing the family honor and face value. On the other hand, love marriages give young couple the opportunities to understand each other and nurture relationship before marriage. Isn’t that more reliable than the star charts?

Either in an arranged marriage or in love marriage, people make hasty mistakes. But we make mistakes everywhere in life, isn’t that how people learn and grow, rather than blaming on their parents? Nevertheless, the success of marriage needs to be facilitated by an open-minded education system, a tolerant community and a supportive family. Avoid early marriage, abstentialism and a strong family value will also help successful marriage. Falling love is easy, but sustaining love needs commitment and sacrifice.


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