What is Love? When we look at the dictionary definition, we’re presented with something simple, almost tangible. Though there are many different interpretations, the description that we thought fit best was:
“Love is unconditional selflessness”
Love is so often celebrated through the creative arts, because it’s something intrinsic, present within all living beings. You don’t even necessarily have to be alive to be loved! We love people who have left us, or some who hasn’t even been born yet. Love is what gives us wings to fly, the will to get up in the morning and the inspiration to create life.
It doesn’t have to be romantic, it just has to be love, in all its simplistic goodness.
Let’s embark on this journey together, as we share in a celebration of love!
Table of contents
Why do we choose to celebrate Love today?
The Four Types of Love
Taking a moment to remember
Why do we choose to celebrate Love today?
Why did we invent a holiday to celebrate something as intangible as Love? The 14th of February, in many countries at least, is a date celebrated by the young and old alike. Like many modern celebrations, it originated from a day celebrated by the Christian church. However, even before that, the Romans held a pagan fertility festival called Lupercalia around the 14th of February. It was later that the Christian church chose to celebrate the martyr: Saint Valentine in mid-February in order to Christianize the pagan celebration.
Officially, his name was Saint Valentine of Terni and he was a 3rd century Roman saint. He has been associated with romantic love since the middle ages. It’s unclear if the stories about St. Valentine are about one person, or if they’re a mixture of stories about 2 other martyrs with the same name. One of them was sentenced to death for preforming secret wedding ceremonies. Another Saint Valentine is known for having helped Christians escape from Roman prisons. This Saint Valentine fell in love with the daughter of his jailer and ended up converting her (and her entire family) to Christianity. It is said that he sent her the first Valentine’s day card ever and he signed it: From your Valentine. So, there you have it, that’s how the tradition came about. A tradition that has been going strong for quite a few centuries now!
The Four Types of Love
When we talk about a Celebration of Love, we mean all kinds of love, not just the romantic kind. The ancient Greeks classified love into four different types:
- Storge = Family Love
- Philia = Friendly Love
- Eros = Romantic Love
- Agape = Divine Love
Later, additional types of Love were added like self-love and courtly love. We all know that there are different kinds of love, and hopefully we’ve all experienced some of the different types. A parent’s love for their children is very different to the love couples feels for each other. The same goes for the kind of love you feel for your friends, and for your pet for example. It doesn’t mean that one type is more important than another, it’s just different, but it’s all love.
“Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Alfred Lord Tennyson
When we look at our own lives, we should be able to distinguish the different kinds of love stories we’ve had over the years: with friends, family-members, pets, colleagues and anyone (or anything) else in our lives. They have given us intense moments of joy but probably some intense sadness as well. Like the famous words from Alfred Lord Tennyson: “Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”. Getting your heart broken is better than keeping it locked away and never experiencing love. That goes for all types of love.
A Love story between Friends
A day like today is the perfect time to revisit some of the best love stories of all time. With that in mind, let’s look at one of the most beautiful and touching love stories between friends that has ever been written. It’s a timeless story and has touched many hearts in the decades since its publication, and will continue to do so for many more.
Le Petit Prince (or The Little Prince) by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry is actually the most translated book in the world! The endearing little Prince takes us on an amazing journey. Anyone who has ever read it will say that it touched their heart in a way that few other stories have. The story is written from the perspective of a pilot (the writer was a pilot in real life) that crashes in the Sahara dessert. There he finds a little blonde boy. Once he’s got over the amazement of finding this unlikely person in a place like that, they begin to talk. The little boy is from another planet and he tells the pilot all about his journey. But we won’t tell you the whole story! We don’t want to spoil it for you, if you haven’t read it yet. If you haven’t, you really should put this little book on your reading list. Even though he’s basically a child, the Prince teaches the adult Pilot some important lessons, lessons he will remember long after the Prince returns to his home planet. The lessons all relate to today’s topic: love. One of the most famous quotes from the book is:
“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
The Prince also tells the Pilot about how he and a fox became friends. The dialogue the Prince had with the fox is basically what friendly love is all about:
“I am looking for friends. What does that mean — tame?”
“It is an act too often neglected,” said the fox. “It means to establish ties.”
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world…” (From; The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
An unforgettable friendship is created in the purest of ways.
A Family Love story
Family and Love go together like bacon and eggs! What would we do without our families? And what would they do without us? The love a parent feels for their child is unconditional. It’s almost superhuman in times of need, and the absence of it can cause severe emotional problems. Even though we should find a healthy balance when it comes to our own lives and our family lives, many of us would feel lost without their support.
Disney’s hit movie Frozen shows how love saves the day once again. However, this time it’s not about a young princess’s love for her Prince Charming. No, the love Princess Anna feels for her sister, Queen Elsa, is what saves the day in this Disney favourite! The story is inspired by Hans Christians Anderson’s story The Snow Queen.
Queen Elsa and Princess Anna live happily together, they’re best friends and life is good. As they grow up, we discover that Elsa has magical powers and can control ice, snow and cold in general. One time, when the two sisters are playing, Elsa accidentally hits her sister Anna with a ray of ice. Little Anna doesn’t die but the injury is serious enough to frighten Elsa and their parents. Elsa proceeds to try to control her powers and shuts her sister out, afraid of hurting her again. After their parents die in a tragic accident, Elsa becomes Queen. Again, we won’t go into details as we don’t want to spoil the story for you if you haven’t seen it yet! Elsa can’t control her powers and leaves their city, choosing a life in peace, somewhere where she can’t hurt anyone. She is pursued by evil men who want to control her city and try to kill her. Even though Elsa spends most of the movie running away and not showing Anna how much she actually loves her, for fear of hurting her again, Anna never gives up and puts her sister first during the film’s critical moment. Anna had been touched by Elsa’s coldness. It nestled into her heart (like in the original story) and only an act of true love could save her. It wasn’t the love of a suiter though; no, only the pure and unconditional love of a sister is strong enough, breaking the spell and providing a happy ending and showing us how strong the love between siblings can be.
“Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead” Oscar Wilde
A Romantic Love story
There is no subject that is used quite as much in the creative arts as romantic love. It’s the most passionate kind of love, it’s the kind that gives us butterflies, makes us float up to cloud nine. It’s what gives us the opportunity to create life. There are tons of immortal love stores to be found, think Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde or Kermit and Miss Piggy! But we wanted to look at a story that took place in real life, one that brought us a beautiful, but tragic love story.
The story of D. Pedro I of Portugal and Inês de Castro is a Portuguese real-life Romeo and Juliet story. Set in the 14th century, Prince Pedro was heir to the Portuguese throne. Naturally, his father, the king, arranged for his son to marry a Princess – Constança from Castile (Spain). When his bride came, she brought her ladies in waiting with her. One of these ladies was Inês de Castro, a Spanish noblewoman, who was very beautiful. Pedro and Inês immediately fell in love. Inês stayed at an estate near Pedro’s palace and the legend goes that the two of them would send secret love letters through a small water channel named “The Fountain of love”. As you can imagine, the affair caused quite the conflict between the two monarchies. Pedro’s father, the King, was furious and sent Inês back to Spain. That did not stop the two lovers, however, and they visited each other frequently. When Pedro’s wife died, he brought Inês back to Portugal where they could finally live openly as lovers and had 4 children together. He wanted to marry her but the King and Queen were afraid that would bring too many problems. One day Pedro went away and the King seized his chance to get rid of the threat that was Inês. He sent three of his most trusted courtiers and had her assassinated. Pedro was inconsolable when he found out what they had done to the love of his life. He waged war against his father and never forgave him. When his father died and Pedro became King, he had her body exhumed from the monastery where she lay, made her a royal tomb and crowned her as Queen, claiming they got married in secret when she was still alive. He then forced the members of his court to kiss her decomposing hand and swear allegiance to their new Queen! He then tracked down her assassins and ripped out their hearts with his own bare hands.
Pedro and Inês are buried in the Monastery of Alcobaça. Their tombs are placed feet to feet so that, when they rise in the afterlife, the first thing they’ll see is one another. Now that’s what we call undying and everlasting love!
Taking a moment to remember
Love is what makes the world go round, it gives us intense joy and fills our hearts with purpose and light. But the other side of the coin isn’t as rose coloured. Love also makes us despair and sad beyond compare, it can break and scar our hearts for a long time. When we lose someone that meant the world to us, life can become difficult for those of us who stay behind. Sometimes people try to forget because the pain of it is just too much, but our loved ones are never really gone. They keep living in our hearts and minds, all we have to do is take a moment to remember them. It won’t take away the sadness we feel, but it’s a way of celebrating the time we had with them. Honour their lives by celebrating the wonderful person that they were to you.
“Where there is love there is life” Mahatma Gandhi
Mahatma Gandhi said it best; “Where there is love there is life” by keeping a part of our loved ones in our hearts they’re never really gone. They live on through our memory and will never leave us.
What better day to remember our loved ones who are no-longer physically with us, than on the day we celebrate love?
- Take a moment to do that for yourself, go on a long walk with a friend if you don’t want to be alone and think about all the nice moments you had together
- Write a letter to the person you’re remembering
- invite some close friends or relatives round for a get-together like a dinner. Share funny and memorable moments you had with the person you’re remembering
The best thing is to remember them when you’re with other people, so you won’t feel lonely. You might need some peace and quiet for yourself, just be careful not to linger in the past. However difficult it may be, remember that life goes on. Hopefully these words of Winnie the Pooh can help you feel a little bit better:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” Winnie the Pooh
The Written word and Love
In order to inspire you to write your own love letter, poem or even a story, we’ve assembled some of the most beautiful love quotes of our time! Go get yourself a pen, a nice piece of stationary and make someone you love a little bit happier today!
- Love is anterior to life, posterior to death, initial of creation, and the exponent of breath – Emily Dickinson
- Love has no age, no limit; and no death – John Galsworthy
- There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship – Thomas Aquinas
- There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved – George Sand
- Speak love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier – Mother Teresa
- We love life, not because we are used to living but because we are used to loving – Friedrich Nietzsche
- A single rose can be my garden…a single friend, my world – Leo Buscaglia
- I have found the one whom my soul loves – Song of Solomon 3:4
- I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees – Pablo Neruda
- Have enough courage to trust love one more time and always, one more time – Maya Angelou
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