By Kay Elam, Sigma Delta (Huntingdon College), Rituals, Traditions and Jewelry Committee
When the month of February is mentioned, three thoughts pop into my mind.
- Shortest month
- Is this leap year?
- Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day has not always been associated with love. In the Middle Ages, it was often shrouded with violence, martyrdom, and archaic matchmaking rituals. Even today in 2022, it is celebrated differently around the world. In Japan, for example, women give chocolates to men on February 14th, and Ghana has dubbed it “National Chocolate Day.” In Wales, spoons are given as a token of love, while pigs are exchanged in Germany—not real ones, but small keepsakes symbolizing good luck, much like we use Cupid in our part of the world. Russia banned Valentine’s Day, saying it didn’t help people develop spiritual and moral values. But the people of Estonia celebrate it as Friendship Day with an inclusive festival that includes couples, singles, family members and friends.
Some of these celebrations remind me of our Fraternity, Alpha Omicron Pi. While AOII hasn’t been around nearly as long as Valentine’s Day, it is steeped in strong traditions, most centered around love. Love covers many emotions, and we tend to use the word love a lot. “I love your new haircut.” “I love ice cream.” “I love my family.” “I love you.” But what does love mean?
The Western tradition of love focuses on four types of love from the Greeks and has a Greek name for each.
- Eros is passionate or romantic love and would easily fall under the Valentine’s Day Umbrella. When good, it’s very, very good but when it’s not good, it can cause great heartache.
- Storge refers to natural or instinctual love like the love parents have for a child or vice versa.
- Philia describes an emotional connection that goes beyond casual friendships. Also known as brotherly or sisterly love, it is a deeper level of connection like we have with our AOII sisters. We are bound by our ties of friendship and by our Ritual.
- Agape is the love of mankind. This is the highest form of love, the charity we take into the outside world. This type of love encompasses a universal, unconditional love that endures regardless of circumstance.
The word “love” appears in our Rituals Book 115 times. (Yes, I counted.) This, of course, includes multiple Rituals, Ceremonies, and Services. Think about our Initiation Ritual. How many times is the word love or a word meaning love used? Are any of the Greek words for love represented in Ritual?
Love is all around us in many different forms. To feel it, all we must do is open our hearts and let it in—on Valentine’s Day and every day in AOII.
You may contact the Rituals, Traditions, and Jewelry Committee (RT&J) about anything Ritual-related at RT&J@alphaomicronpi.org