Valentine’s Day Jailhouse Blues

I am no big fan of Valentine’s Day.  My wife and I think it is silly to celebrate our love on the one specific day of the year when all the florists, shopkeepers and restaurants have their knives out to slaughter lovers with exorbitant prices.  In the modern context, Valentine’s Day is just another over-hyped, commercial event.    Historically, the romantic associations with Valentine’s Day has nothing to do with Saint Valentine who was not remembered as some patron of lovers.  Valentine is remembered on that day because he was a martyr who was brutally killed for his faith.  Inspirational, maybe.  Romantic? No.

Apparently, the first known association of  Valentine’s Day with romance and love comes from Geoffrey Chaucer’s poem “Parlement of Foules” which was written in 1382.  In the poem, he wrote;

“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate”

So, apparently, Chaucer was referring to a special day when birds in Britain choose their mate.  And even then, he may also have exercised poetic license cause February 14th is way too early and cold for returning birds to be turning to thoughts of love.

So, Valentine’s Day to me is just a load of hogwash.  Still, I respect the right of the gullible to fall for the modern marketing gimmicks and the right of hopeless romantics to knock themselves out to celebrate the loves of their lives. Hey, it can even be fun watching some of their antics.

Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Celebrating Valentine’s can be costly,
And land you in jail too.

However, be warned that since 2005 Muslims in Malaysia can be arrested for celebrating Valentine’s Day and in fact more than 100 Muslim couples were arrested last year.   Proponents and supporters of this “law” give three main reasons;

  1. Valentine’s Day is associated with elements of Christianity.
  2. Celebrating Valentine’s Day leads to immoral acts (they call it sinful sexual gratification day).
  3. Asking someone to be your Valentine is akin to idolatry.

The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) is pushing for more arrests this year for Muslim couples out on the town celebrating  this terrible Day.  They are also asking the government to ban hotels from offering any Valentine’s Day specials which they say may lead to couples spending an illicit night at the hotels.  Finally, they are asking the government to place public service announcements on national television to warn Muslims from celebrating the Day.  What killjoys!

Perhaps the ladies are more romantic cause the Sisters in Islam (SIS) spoke out against PAS’s anti-Valentine’s Day campaign.  One of SIS members was quoted as saying, ““It will be better for them to concentrate on other important matters like the backlog of syariah cases in court or the payment of alimony to wife and children.”

Right on, ladies.  As I said, I am no big fan of Valentine’s Day but I believe that those who want to, have every right to pay five times the normal price for flowers or blow a month’s salary on a romantic dinner.  After all as they say “love makes fools of us all” and “fools and their money are soon parted.”

Happy Valentine’s Day young lovers wherever you are.

18 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day Jailhouse Blues”

  1. It’s the Sisters of Islam that are going to eventually place that whack-o religion on an even keel. And, it’s certainly the ladies that keep Valentine’s Day alive. Perhaps it was the fairer sex, the “birds”, that Chaucer was referring to.

  2. Herrjemineh, a lot of things need to be sorted. BTW “Asking someone to be your Valentine is akin to idolatry.” is imho way over the top – even the Vatican would not see this as a violation of the first Gebot … it’s a dangerous area where religion, society and moral rule and mingle, throw in ethnic conflicts and you have the receipe for violence, in the name of “fill in the blank”.
    I hope you have a peaceful and happy day in he live of your family – whoever may call this day by whatever name.

  3. I dislike V-Day but my God, that’s harsh. I’ll eat a heart-shaped chocolate just to spite them!

  4. Mr. Charleston,
    I suppose narrow minded and conservative minds can be found in any religion and even amongst the non-religious and they all need to have their eyes opened to the bigger world. I agree with the SIS that until the self-righteous men start solving the issues of infidelity by men, failure to make alimony payments and children abuse, they shouldn’t even poke their noses elsewhere. As for Chaucer, the poem is about the “parlement of foules” which roughly translates to “meeting of birds” but he could have been using it as an analogy for the human sexes, I supposed. I’m no literary scholar.

  5. Mago,
    Thanks and may you too have a great day whatever you choose to make of it.

    Riot Kitty,
    Better still, have some Hershey “kisses” …….. in public. Kisses in public also gets their goat.

  6. Hi,
    I saw, you’re interested in posting photos on our blog, that’s great. We would like to see some of your photos(best send them to me(, and we’d tell you until march, weather it works, but maybe, it doesn’t too, but let’s see 😉
    Greetings and like your blog!
    have a nice valentines day too 🙂

  7. I just learned that that there is even a Nutella Day, and I don`t mind any of those days as long as I`m not forced to buy nutella (hate it) or roses (have them in my garden, only covered in snow now), or feel guilty on Mother`s Day. But you are so right about male hypocracy in this (sex) matter that I can spit out! All the Ayatollahs and Bishops who love to punish women for their “being a temptation to them” (and wipe out rhinos and elephants for their horns, hoping for better erections – have you heard that female groups have started sending them their toenails now?) should all be reborn as women next time.
    Don`t get me started on this! Happy Day, anyway!

  8. LGS, considering that you are my go-to for all things cultural, I’m curious: do this Islamic rules against Valentine’s Day also apply to people who do not practice Islam? And perhaps that’s another question in and of itself…are Maylas born into Islam or is it a practice by choice?

    All the same, I had no clue those laws existed. I wish I could say the states – ostensibly committed to freedom and democracy – let up on it’s anti-Muslim sentiment, but I can’t. Intolerance, it seems, is the province of most world religions.

  9. Xandimusic,
    The deed is done. The photos sent. Look forward to hearing from you.

    You said it. It’s all about male hypocrisy and false piousness and pride. It’s a strange world that promotes violence, bombs and wars but try to stop love and kisses.

  10. Andre,
    Some great questions which I will try to answer briefly. Islamic law or syariah at the moment only applies to Muslims. However, there have been some lobbying from certain fundamentalist parties to extend at least a part of it to non-Muslims as well. For example, currently if the couple included a Muslim and a non-Muslim, then only the Muslim would be arrested for breaking the syariah but if the lobbyist gets their way, then the non-Muslim would also be arrested for leading the Muslim astray. Some states in Malaysia already apply certain dress codes and behaviour (such as separate queues at supermarket checkout counters for males and females) which applies to everyone. Some hotels have been told to have two swimming pools so as to segregate male and female guests.

    Malays are considered Muslim as soon as they are born. Preaching any other religion to Muslims is illegal. Theoretically, the law allows them freedom to choose other religions but in practice any Malay who chooses another religion risks losing certain privileges, faces hostile ostracization from the Malay community and some have been arrested. In reality, with a few exceptions, they would have to leave the country.

  11. The persecution of people who want to celebrate what is supposed to be a fun day-I mean children on the other side of the globe give each other Valentines, nothing “immoral” about that! But what else can you expect from religious extremists, other than ignorant fear, violence and ‘our way is the only way’ type of mentality. (I am a believer, but my first belief is let bygones be bygones, as long as other people aren’t hurting in each other than I have no right to tell them what they can and cannot celebrate)

    Anyways, I like Valentines-It’s a nice, colourful day in what is otherwise a long and sometimes bleak winter. You don’t HAVE to go out and buy the usual gifts or go out for dinner. It’s your day to do what you want or if you’re in a couple, what you both want to do. 🙂

  12. Pauline,
    I am all for celebrating love …….. but against the crass commercialisation that has become Valentine’s Day. Being dictated to by marketing agencies is as bad as being dictated to my religious extremists. But I am glad you had a great Valentine’s.

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