Everyone in the West has heard of Valentine’s day. And that it is, supposedly, the day of ‘’love’. However, the term ‘’love’’ has been used and misused in so many contexts that it would be an onerous task to define it with even reasonable accuracy. However, Hollywood, our Orwellian media and the way people tend to celebrate this day, all provide clues to the much sought-after definition of modern love.
Whatever Valentine’s day might have stood for in the olden days, nowadays it is most certainly about promoting a ‘’love’’ that can be bought by means of expensive presents (something many retailers most certainly ‘’love’’ too) ; a love that is free from any notion of sacrifice, commitment, fidelity or marriage. In other words, ‘’love’’ on Valentine’s day stands for pure pleasure, a free-for-all, guilt-free engagement in lasciviousness and vice. Or, at least, that is what the Western elites have been promoting, with some success.
Contrastingly, despite the unfortunate fact that not many Westerners have heard about it, Russia has recently celebrated on the 8th of July, for an eighth consecutive year, the Day of the Family, Love and Faithfulness. Although the modern-day celebrations were officially introduced in 2008 thanks to an initiative of the people of Murom and the support of Svetlana Medvedeva, wife of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, such celebrations have been present in Russia for centuries: from the time Russia was still known as Kievan Rus right up to the 1917 Communist putsch.
It is no coincidence that the day chosen was the 8th of July, for on this day falls the day the Orthodox Church commemorates St. Peter and Fevronia of Murom, who are considered to be the patron Saints of love, marriage and fidelity. The story of their lives, provides us with an incredibly high, Divinely instituted, standard of marriage, faithfulness till death, willingness to sacrifice all one’s worldly possessions, even one’s kingdom and power, for one’s better half. The most radical message here, however, is that only the existence of faithfulness, marriage and the family can provide the necessary conditions for real love to flourish. The contrast with the West’s rebellion against all norms and restrictions could not be greater.
Since its introduction in 2008, the Day of the Family, Love and Faithfulness has been steadily becoming more popular and is now celebrated all over Russia. Furthermore, the 8th of July celebration has been eyed by prominent Church and political figures in other traditionally Orthodox countries. Albeit the celebrations in such countries have tended to be more informal, this year the day was officially celebrated in Serbia for the first time. After celebrating the Divine Liturgy, the Serbian Patriarch presented the Serbian Church’s Medal ‘For Love and Fidelity’ to couples who had lived in marriage for over 25 years, and had thus become role models for the traditional Orthodox family. Moreover, the day is celebrated by Orthodox Christians all over the world, including North America and Europe.
Whatever the critics may say about the Day of the Family, Love and Faithfulness two things are certain: it is not only here to stay, but it also serves as a reminder to the West of the values it abandoned not such a long time ago .