What is it and where did it come from?
St. Valentine's Day: Paganization of Christianity or Christianization of
Christians were aware of the Pagan roots of Valentine's Day. The way the
Christians adopted St. Valentine's Day should be a lesson for Muslims. In
fact, the failure to fully separate Valentine's Day from its pagan roots
explains why Islamic scholars and a number of Muslims avoid adopting
traditions of non-Muslims, even though they could possibly be Islamicized.
The Arabic word Bida means adopting something new as a religious practice
into Islam. Bida is a sin in Islam. Muslims should avoid things with
unIslamic roots even though they may appear to be innocent.
The history of Valentine's Day serves as a powerful lesson for Muslims. St.
Valentine became a Saint trying to resist free sex. Even though there was an
attempt to Christianize it, today St. Valentine's day is
gone back to its roots. No one even knows that the Church even tried to ban
the St. Valentine's Day. Rather, most people think of romance, cupid and his
arrow, which are vestiges of pagan Rome.
Pagan origins of Valentine's Day
The first information about this day is found in pre-Christian Rome, when
pagans would celebrate the "Feast of the Wolf" on February 15, also known as
the Feast of Lupercalius in honour of Februata Juno, the Roman goddess of
women and marriage, and Pan, Roman god of nature.
On this day, young women would place their names in an urn, from which boys
would randomly draw to discover their sexual companion for the day, the
year, and sometimes the rest of their lives. These partners
exchanged gifts as a sign of affection, and often married.
When Christianity came onto the scene in Rome, it wanted to replace this
feast with something more in line with its ethics and morality.
A number of Christians decided to use February 14 for this purpose. This was
when the Italian Bishop Valentine was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius
II for conducting secret marriages of military men in the year 270.
Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with
wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young, single men, who made
up his military. Valentine defied Claudius and performed marriages for young
couples in secret. When his actions were revealed, Claudius put
him to death.
Another version of the story says that Valentine was a holy priest in Rome,
who helped Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often
beaten and tortured.
Valentine was arrested and sent to the prefect of Rome for this. He found
that his attempts to make Valentine renounce his faith were useless, and so
recommended he be beaten with clubs, and later beheaded. This took place on
February 14, 270.
According to the Catholic encyclopaedia, there are at least three different
Saint Valentines, all of whom are Christian martyrs of February 14.
One of them is described as a priest from Rome (as mentioned above), another
as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and the third from Africa.
It was in the year 496 that Pope Gelasius officially changed the February 15
Lupercalia festival to the February 14 St. Valentine's Day to give Christian
meaning to a pagan festival. The holiday become popular in the United States
in the 1800's during the Civil War.
As well, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery for young
women that would take place during the pagan festival.
Instead of the names of young women, the box would have the names of saints.
Men and women were allowed to draw from the box, and the purpose of this was
to copy the ways of the saint they had selected for the rest of the year.
Valentine's Day Customs
A number of the customs connected to Valentine's Day originate in the belief
in England and France during the middle Ages, that on February 14, birds
began to pair.
Fourteenth and 15th centuries' French and English literatures make indirect
references to the practice.
Those who chose each other as husband and wife on Valentine's Day apparently
called each other their Valentines.
In terms of the Valentine's greeting "Your Valentine" which today you find
on a number of Valentine's Day cards, the above-mentioned Roman priest
Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself.
While he was in prison awaiting execution, he apparently fell in love with a
young girl who would visit him. Before he died, he allegedly wrote her a
letter, signed 'From your Valentine,'
In terms of the virtually naked, arrow-shooting cupid character, which
shoots people with its arrows to make them fall in love, this character is a
vestige of Roman pagan times. Cupid was described as the son of Venus, the
Roman god of love and beauty. You usually find Cupid's picture on Valentine
cards and other paraphernalia .
We should avoid anything associated with pagan immoral practices - We do not
need to honour or celebrate the death of a Christian "saint" - Islam does
not encourage flirting or suggestions of romantic relationships before
marriage - Love between families, friends and married people does not need
to be celebrated on a day with such un-Islamic origins.
The Prophet (s) has advised us that if we love somebody we should let them
know (of course we know the forbidden relationships are not included in this
advise). He (s) said it generally and did not ask us to do it 'on such and
such a day'. Prophet (s) didn't ask us to do it only once a year but as
often as we can. So are we going to obey him (s) or Mr. Valentine?
The Prophet (s) also said that we should be different from the Jews and the
Christians and the unbelievers, so if the non Muslims are busy celebrating
Valentine's let's take the Prophet's (s) words of wisdom and be different.
<big><big>Jazak Allah for Mujahid</big></big>