Should we ban our teens from Valentine’s Day?
Posted February 15, 2009on:
This article was published by The Jakarta Post on February 14, 2009. Read the article on The Jakarta Post, here.
Today is Feb. 14 and it’s saturday. It means it’s a perfect Valentine’s Day. For young Indonesians out there who live in big cities like Jakarta and Bandung, they know exactly what it means. It’s love time! I bet they are busy choosing the right flowers and chocolate for their girlfriends or boyfriends.
If you visit any mall in Jakarta right now you will see how they have been covered with red and pink love-shaped accessories. It seems that everyone wants to be part of this special celebration.
But that is not the case.
In reality, not everyone in Indonesia is a big fan of Valentine’s Day. Indonesian Islamic clerics have long condemned this celebration accusing that this celebration comes from Christian culture therefore it should not be celebrated. And that’s not completely wrong; Valentine’s Day celebration does come from a Christian-dominated society, the West.
I remember when I was in high school, my friends would be divided into two groups. One group would be the ones who would talk about Valentine’s Day weeks before. They would trade information on where the best florist was or what kind of chocolate they could get. The other group would be the ones who distributed brochures giving information to others how Valentine’s Day celebration was not something Islamic and it should not be followed.
Several days ago a few younger friends of mine asked me whether or not they could celebrate Valentine’s Day. I answered them by saying that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating it. One of them was not satisfied complaining that Valentine’s Day celebration comes from non-Muslim culture.
I later ended the conversation by telling them that I wasn’t an Islamic cleric. I suggested them to ask someone with better knowledge on Islam.
But what I think about Valentine’s Day is that there’s nothing wrong with celebrating it as long as we know the limits.
Yes, I know the history. A priest named St. Valentine was killed by a king after helping couples to get married. For some reasons which I don’t quite know for sure, this king didn’t want people to get married.
What if that guy named Valentine had been a Muslim? I’m sure we all wouldn’t have any problem with Valentine’s Day celebration. Before you start preaching me, listen to what I got to say.
I know that I’m not a really good Muslim. I have to admit that. Some of my friends accuse me for being too moderate. And I guess they are probably right; although I’m not really sure what a moderate Muslim really means.
One thing I know, they think I simplify things too much. And again, they might be right. But why should we make things so complicated?
On Valentine’s Day celebration, I just think that this has nothing to do with Christianity. It’s simply a celebration of love. And I believe every religion in this world believes in the power of love.
The fact that its history involves a priest is not a big deal. The fact that this celebration comes from a non-Muslim culture, I think, shouldn’t be exploited too negatively. Relax and take it easy.
So what if Valentine’s Day comes from a non-Muslim culture? Don’t we use internet and learn the whole thing about computer hardware and software when we all know they were all invented by non Muslims? Before you judge that it’s a wrong analogy, please remember that I already told you how sometimes I simplify things too much.
I completely agree with parents’ concern on how Valentine’s Day celebration might affect negatively to their teenagers. Many people have shown their frustration on Indonesian teenagers’ behavior; they complain that Indonesian teenagers are going “West” too much.
But for that case, I don’t think it’s wise if we blame the condition solely on Valentine’s Day celebration. There are thousands of other factors that influence the behavior of our young Indonesians. What about our sinetron, for example? Do you think it represents our proud Eastern culture?
What we need to do is exploit the good things of Valentine’s Day celebration. What we need to make our teenagers understand is that love is not an exclusive commodity for their boyfriends and girlfriends. Valentine’s Day celebration can or should also be rejoiced with their parents, siblings, or other loved ones.
All I want to say is that we shouldn’t be too paranoid about this. Not everything from the West is bad for all of us. There are things that we could learn. But, there are also things that we shouldn’t follow.
It’s just that simple. I know, I probably simplify things too much.