Another Valentine's Day is fast approaching and many people, especially the young, have already formed ideas about sumptuous getaways, fancy dinners and other romantically titillating ways to mark the day. Nobody can be blamed for subscribing to the conventional notion that Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love, for which reason chocolate and other gifts must flow between lovers. After all, most popular music have romantic themes and these have helped to drive general thinking about Valentine’s Day in a certain direction. What many folks are beginning to realise these days, however, is that Valentine’s Day is just a big commercial affair. For chocolate makers, jewellers and restaurateurs in particular, the day is, next to Christmas, the most lucrative moment of the year and they cash in with vigour. Having realised that Valentine’s Day is just a creation of the sentimental Victorian era, a lot of people are getting wiser and not giving in to the media bombardment over what to do, buy and eat and how to behave on the day. We notice that many churches have stepped in to help direct their youth away from the ‘over sexualisation’ of Valentine’s Day by organising what they consider to be more purposeful programmes for the youth on the day. That does not mean young people are being shooed away from activities of intrinsic interest to them. After all, the Bible says in Mark that “thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength”. We strongly believe that there are many things people can do on Valentine’s Day to show love to others, since the day is supposed to be a celebration of love. People can, for example, consider branching out from romance into charity and friendship. There are many orphanages, hospitals and schools of all sorts that will be happy to welcome volunteers for a day. Imagine the smiles that will fly across the faces of children in an orphanage on seeing volunteers come in to cook something they like for them! Some of our celebrities have started celebrating their birthdays with less-privileged people, during which the celebrities present assorted gifts and generally cheer them up with music, food and drinks. We think that is a habit worth emulating by more people on their birthdays and during special occasions such as Valentine’s Day and Christmas. Since the promotion of domestic tourism is on everybody’s lips these days, we encourage people to plan some tourist activities they have never done. They can explore unfamiliar places in the cities and towns where they live and still derive immense amusement from that. Love and appreciation are things humans naturally crave for. Sometimes it is easy to assume that the people around us know how much we care for and appreciate them when, in reality, they don’t. To make it clear how much we value them, we can say complimentary things to them regularly but make Valentine’s Day a special time to genuinely express how we appreciate them. Some of us may initially find it hard not considering Valentine’s Day as an occasion to show romantic love. Love, however, comes in many different shades and we can genuinely explore them without giving in to the highly commercialised version sold to us in the Valentine season.
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