By Rachel Kakraba
Ghana, today 14th February 2022, joins the rest of the world to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day also known as Valentine’s Day. The day is said to have originated as a Christian feast day honouring an early Christian martyr named Saint Valentine. There are several tales associated with the celebration of valentine’s on February 14. Some posits that Saint Valentine performed weddings for Christian soldiers who were forbidden to marry. In another narrative Saint Valentine is said to have restored the sight of the blind daughter of his jailer and later wrote to the jailer’s daughter and signed off “Your Valentine” as a farewell before his execution.
The Feast of Saint Valentine was instituted in AD 496 to be celebrated on February 14 in honour of Saint Valentine of Rome, who died the same day. It grew into an occasion in which couples expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards to each other. Today it has become a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many regions of the world, including Ghana. A section of Ghanaians who were engaged in the essence of what the celebration of the day means to them acknowledged the day is worth celebrating.
“Valentine is a day of love, then February is the month of love as well. On Valentine’s day people show love by buying gifts, taking their loved ones out and everything”.
For a person like me who is quite reserved, I like to keep to myself on special occasions like that, reflect on my own life”.
“Vals for me is a normal day, there is nothing special for me on that day so I don’t have any expectations”.
“It’s a time to reflect on everything that has happened so far as a relationship is concerned, time to just be with the love of your life and then just go out there, chill and have fun”.
2022 is another opportunity for people to celebrate Valentine in different forms. A cross section of the public shared how they would be celebrating this year’s Valentine’s day.
“On a day like that I would definitely maybe hang out with my sister. I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment so my family, my sisters and cousins are people I share so many things”.
“After work probably in the evening I will just go out and chill and have fun”.
“No outing for me this Vals, he’s not around so I would rather prefer staying at home”.
“We might travel to Cape Coast and spend our special day. I urge everyone out there to make use of the day and spend quality time with their loved ones and make good memories.”
February and marriage
Otherwise known as the month of love, February has become synonymous with passion and love, particularly amongst family, friends and persons in intimate affairs. For some getting joined in holy matrimony in the love month of February tops it all. Michael Adama Boivi, and Erica Klutse are one such lucky couple. What could have influenced their choice of date?
Mr. Michael Boivi said, ”somewhere last year that is when we chose our wedding date. We didn’t even think of Vals day. But we realized it later, it actually added some feeling and it’s very special to us”.
“I love vals day because I get hundred percent attention from my sweetheart. “Giggles” I love it when he is around me so I am always happy when Vals day is approaching” added Mrs. Adama Boivi.
National Chocolate Day
Riding on the back of the massive acceptance and enthusiasm towards Valentine’s day celebration Ghana in 2005 instituted the National Chocolate Day initiative to coincide with the day. This was through the instrumentality of the then Minister of Tourism, Modernisation and Diasporan Relations, the late Jake Obetsebi Lamptey, as a deliberate measure to promote consumption of chocolate and cocoa products. Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board, COCOBOD, Joseph Boahen Aidoo, is convinced Jake’s singular initiative has been worthwhile. He said COCOBOD will work round the clock to ensure Ghana becomes a centre of cocoa consumption. Mr. Aidoo encourages all Ghanaians to be a part of that dream to catapult Ghana’s cocoa sector to acceptable heights.
“Those of you who are young and still looking old, the more cocoa you take the younger and the more beautiful you look. I just hope that we all continue to contribute our quota towards making Ghana a cocoa consumption nation”.
For the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Tourism Authority, Akwasi Agyemang, the national chocolate Day, on valentine’s day has been a major boost to the Tourism industry.
“I am very sure that Tetteh Quashie cocoa farm will be one of the best tourism attractions in the country. A lot more events happen and they are all part of the tourism value chain and so the more people go out the more they spend money and the more investors are interested in setting up”.
Valentine’s Day celebrations usually see an increase in demand for cocoa products, especially chocolate. GBC visited the Cocoa House, that is the headquarters of COCOBOD, in Accra Central to find out how some retailers were preparing for Valentine’s day. In fact, business was brisk as dealers walked in and out to cart a variety of chocolate products for sale to the public. A trader Yaa Boatengmaa, in an interview, said the chocolate business is generally good, but gets better going into Valentine’s day celebrations.
“Chocolate is what I sell, I am not selling chocolate because of valentine’s day. However, my profit margins increase getting into the day and even after because of the nutritional benefits of chocolate”
The church and Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day Celebrations in the past gained notoriety for certain immoral practices among the youth, as some seized the day to dabble in improper lifestyle. To stem this, some churches embraced the celebration by organising special evening events for members and the youth in particular. One of such churches is the St. Stephens Roman Catholic Church, in Darkuman, a suburb of Accra. Youth president of the church, Edward Taylor, said the “Agape Feast” which is held annually on the 14th of February is one of the church’s flagship programmes to teach the youth about proper relationships.
“We don’t want people to go out and get themselves involved in stuff so we bring them to the church and then we have fun, also it is a nice opportunity to get people who are dating for sometime and want to bring it to church for God to bless it for them”.
“For some of our episodes of the Agape Feast we’ve had people blessing their marriages because we normally have mass weddings in some of the sessions of the Agape Feast,” Mr. Taylor added.
Mr. Taylor, encouraged other churches to emulate the Feast. ”This is a nice programme that other Parishes should emulate from us because we are all body of Christ”.
Opponents to the annual valentine’s day celebration argue demonstrating love must be an everyday thing and not necessarily reserved for a day. But, as interest heightens and patronage and consumption of chocolate and other cocoa products increase the day is undoubtedly worth celebrating. Hope you have bought a chocolate for a loved one.