Sunday, February 10, 2008

Valentine's Day: Time for lovers to get closer

TV actor Anjasmara will celebrate Valentine's Day on Feb. 14 with Dian Nitami, his celebrity wife.

Last year's Valentine's Day was a surprise event for Anjas and Dian, who have four children. When they woke up in the morning, they found small pink heart-shaped pieces of chocolate on their dining table. A short while later, their children jumped out from their hiding places yelling "Happy Valentine's". Indeed, Anjas said, Valentine's Day is not only for men and women in love but also for families, relatives and fellow humans.

And like Anjas and Dian, other celebrities celebrate Valentine's Day in a special way. According to one website, a young celebrity couple now enjoying great popularity, Irwansyah and Acha Septriasa, are also eagerly awaiting Valentine's Day. Irwansyah does not want to celebrate Valentine's Day all alone. And so his girlfriend Acha, who is in Malaysia furthering her education, will return home for the special day.

In addition, Irwan said, the two of them will spend Valentine's Day at a place where they first expressed their love for each other. "She wanted me to spend Valentine's Day in Pangalengan. It was there that we first expressed our love for each other. At the time we were shooting Heart. Well, perhaps I will give her a ring, a flower or a piece of chocolate. This may be commonplace, but we are entering another level in our relationship and should think ahead," he said.

Valentine's Day is the perfect time for young people in love to get closer or for a husband and a wife to reaffirm their love. Valentine's Day is not just a private matter but is also a social event celebrated by many people. Just take a look around the various malls and plazas in town in the leadup to Valentine's Day. Shopping centers are dressed up in Valentine paraphernalia: ribbons, heart-shaped pillows, teddy bears, flowers, etc. with the dominant color being pink.

Valentine's Day, which is celebrated on Feb. 14, is very popular among youngsters, especially in urban areas. It is true that Valentine's Day has its root in Western tradition, but it has found its way onto many distant shores, including Indonesia.

Valentine's Day is considered a special day when people express their love. Even young children join in the fun and send Valentine's Day cards to friends, teachers and relatives. Many people mark the day by eating out at restaurants with Valentine themed menus.

There are two versions of how Valentine's Day came into being. One version says Valentine's Day is in commemoration of Valentine, who defied an order by Emperor Claudius II for soldiers not to marry, believing marriage would distract his soldiers. Valentine defied this order and secretly performed marriages for soldiers, was discovered, imprisoned and sentenced to death. While in prison, he wrote a letter to his sweetheart and signed it "From your Valentine."

Another version has it that Valentine's Day has its origins in the February Lupercalia spring festival, when Romans celebrated the abundance of spring. One of the traditions of this festival was for boys to draw the names of girls, and the name of the girl that a boy drew out would be the girl he would spend the next year with.

This celebration has been widely received. In fact, in the days of yore people celebrated the abundance of nature. Gratitude was expressed to the gods and goddesses for giving happy lives to mortals. However, these values gradually disappeared with the development of Christianity.

In Europe, members of the nobility celebrated Valentine's Day by holding parties and distributing gifts. Even a famous British poet, Geoffrey Chaucer, considered Valentine's Day a day of true love and he symbolized it with doves. This tradition of expressing love and kindness has become a world tradition. In Indonesia, the celebration of Valentine's Day still gives rise to a lot of doubt in the community because this celebration comes from the West. Despite this, retailers use it as an opportune time to boost sales.

Retailers may not hold sales like they do before Christmas and Lebaran, but they usually allot special space for Valentine merchandise. Cafes and restaurants also have special Valentine menus. The retailers' strategy is to lure people to buy their wares, whether nor not they need them. Perhaps, people need a moment of fresh air plus gifts either from other people or bought by themselves to benefit from a sale. Some people see Valentine's Day as a product of consumerism. However, consumerism is strong within our society and is reason enough for retailers to take advantage of our buying impulse. So, are you celebrating Valentine's Day? Or are you one of those who are strongly opposed to the celebration of this Western-style celebration of loving kindness? (Burhanuddin Abe)

The Jakarta Post, February 11, 2008

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