Saintly, Lovely Day

Feb 16 , 2019
By Tsion Fisseha

Legend has it that over a millennium ago, a priest performed particular actions that led to the birth of a date celebrated across the globe today. The cleric, now better known as St. Valentine, was said to have signed a letter “Your Valentine” to a jailer’s daughter whom he has somehow healed from blindness, and in further embellishment of the legend, had defied an emperor’s orders to secretly marry couples to spare their husbands from war.

Regardless of how the day came to be, February 14 is known and celebrated as Valentine’s Day, a day of love and lovers. It has surpassed stereotypes and is now celebrated by not just couples but among relatives and friends to show the love they have for each other.

Of course, science will tell us that love is nothing more than the effect chemicals in our brain create. Love or the experience that is described as such is profoundly affected by specific substances in the human body, such as oxytocin and dopamine. These substances work together and make the body alert, excited and yearning to bond.

But that is just formality for love does not need science or neurological explanation, because it is neither learned nor unlearned. It is the most natural act for the human species. It does not seem that way now since the concept of love has become overshadowed. It has been forgotten and has been thrown in the hamper along with dirty shirts and socks. It has been brushed off and neglected for years now.

Worse, this holiday, despite the theme and message it carries, is frowned upon in Ethiopia.

It is not uncommon to hear “not our culture” or “Western imperialism shrouded in roses and wine” whenever February 14 is around the corner.

But sharing cultures is not a new phenomenon; societies from all over the world have been doing it for years. For it does not perpetuate love only in the romantic sense, we need to push the boundary and exercise it in its purest form.

We should spread the ideology of love, call a long lost cousin, buy someone lunch, volunteer, smile towards everyone we meet, tell someone we love them, and by doing all of this, make Valentine’s Day an Ethiopian reality. Every time the day comes to pass, let us allow the love we feel to become second nature to our actions and celebrate it every single day.

As Robert Browning once said, “take away love and our earth is a tomb.”

Despite the increasing lack of it, we are surrounded by love. As explained in many songs and movies, it is a wonderful thing. It is pure and not fragile, and it is the reason warmth is pushed into the body.

Love is felt all around if the heart is open to feel it. It is one of the chief reasons people smile, cry and experience emotions. It is in the family we are born into, in the siblings that we are perpetually in conflict with, in the group of friends that carry our burdens and in the teacher that bestows lifelong lessons.

It is also in that person that sweeps us off of our feet or the partner that is always there, in co-workers that promise a better future, in the hands of the cook that prepares our dishes, and in the random acts of kindness that come from complete strangers. Most importantly, it is in all of us.

Love mends the broken heart, and February 14 is a reminder of the love that floats about in the air.


PUBLISHED ON Feb 16,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 981]

Tsion Fisseha is a writer and head of foreign languages in the news department at a local TV station. She has been a part of a pan African poetry slam competition representing Ethiopia and is a member of a rock band entitled the Green Manalishi. She can be reached at

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