February is sometimes called as the Month of Love, but February 14th is always known as the Day of Love or the Valentine’s Day, which is considered as a Special Day to celebrate Love and Friendship around the world.
The New Lexicon Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary defines valentine as a sweetheart chosen on Valentine’s Day, the day when birds were believed to begin mating. According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, valentine means, someone you love or would like to have a romantic relationship with, and you send a valentine card (or gift) to him or her. And the message on the card (or gift) said “Be my Valentine”. Britannica Encyclopedia refers to the Valentine’s Day as a day when lovers express their affection with greetings and gifts. On the basis of Wikipedia Online Dictionary, Valentine’s Day is the traditional day on which lovers in certain cultures let each other know about their love.
Reliable evidences indicate that whispering, worshiping, and celebrating love in Persian Culture trace back to pre-Zoroastrian era, long before Zoroaster’s time. It should be noted that to establish an exact date for Zoroaster’s time vary widely. Scholarly estimates are usually roughly near 1700 BC. Others, however, give earlier estimates, making him as the founder of the earliest religion based on revealed scripture, while still others place him in the 6th century BC, which would make him contemporary to the rise of the Achamenids.
The evidences that indicate Iranians were worshiping and celebrating love during pre-Zoroastrian era, in Zoroaster’s time, and onward may be classified as follows:
1. The chief god of the pre-Zoroastrian era was AHURA MAZDA, the creator of the universe and the one who maintained the cosmic and social order. MEHR or MITHRA in Avesta, and MITRAH in Pahlavi was the second most important deity. In Avesta, MEHR was the god or the protector of truth (in Persian: Dourosti) and friendship (in Persian: Doosti). In Modern Persian, MEHR means love (Eshgh), kindness (Mehrabaani), and sun (Khorsheed).
2. The AMESA SPENTAS or the AMESHA SPENTAS are the holy immortals of Zoroastrianism. They probably belonged to the pantheon of ancient Iranian gods, which existed before Zoroaster’s time. It is possible that, although Zoroaster denounced the old gods and goddesses, he assimilated the Amesa Sepantas into his teachings as aspects of AHURA MAZDA, and they were said to serve Ahura Mazda, the creator of the universe. Each of these Amesa Spentas ruled over a particular aspect of reality. To name a few of them, Spenta Mainyu ruled over Humanity, and SPENTA ARMAITI reigned over the Earth.
3. The SPENTA ARMAITI in Persian Mythology was the goddess of devotion and unconditional love. She was also the guardian of herdsmen and farmers, and she is possibly the counterpart of Roman Lupercus and Greek Pan. (Lupercus was the god of shepherds, and Pan was the god of the pastures managed for sheep and goats).
Spenta Armaiti in Persian Culture is also known as Espandarmaz and in Armenian Culture it is known as Spendarmat.
The SPENTA ARMAITI, the Persian goddess of devotion and unconditional love, was widely believed to be the spiritual mother of all human beings, and people were taught to say, 'My mother is Spendarmat, Archangel of the Earth, and my father is Ohrmazd, the Lord of Wisdom'.
According to one tradition, SPENTA ARMAITI was the mother of Kayumars, the King and the primordial being in Persian Mythology. As Kayumars lay dying, his body separated into seven metals. SPENTA ARMAITI gathered together the gold and grew a plant from it. From this plant came the first human couple. The name SPENTA ARMAITI is sometimes translated as 'Love' or 'Devotion'.
According to some documents the ancient Iranians used to celebrate the Day of Love at the end of Bahman (coinciding with February 18) or in the beginning of Esfand (coinciding with February 19), and the feast was known as Spendarmat or Spendarmaz.
In present-day Iran, Esfandgan Feast, which is devoted to women and mothers, is celebrated on Spandarmaz Day in Esfand, the last month of the Iranian calendar, to remember the superior status of mothers as well as their kindness and self-sacrifice.
In Iranian Culture, Valentine’s Day is finding its place in the hearts of many Iranians particularly during the recent years. Undoubtedly, Iranians are hungry for joy and pleasure. Reliable evidences indicate that the number of Iranians who are celebrating the Valentine’s Day is dramatically rising. Young people of Iran argue that celebrating love is a part of Persian Culture and Tradition, dating back thousands of years and it must be always tactfully celebrated. Classic Persian Poems composed by Hafez, Mowlana, Nezami-Ganjavi, and many others, are full of the poems on love. Here are some famous poems about love written by Hafez, Mowlana, and Nezami-Ganjavi respectively:
Whoever was intimate with his heart, his love defined
And he who was not, in his doubt was left behind.
Found nothing more joyful than the sound of words of love
In this turning Merry-Go-Round that You rewind: (Hafez).
Do not call the wise lover insane, or say
The soul who shares your garden is a stranger
Do not confine the encircling sea to a cup
He knows his name; so do not make stories up: (Mowlana).
Heaven has no other prayer niche but love.
Without love the world is worthless.
Become the slave to love, this is the course.
This is the path for all pious people: (Nezami-Ganjavi).
The same argument is also true in Modern Persian Poetry. In the Poems of The Word of Love الفبا ی عشق, The Amount of Love ا ند ا زه ی عشق , The Best Word: The Best Way بهترین حرف ، بهترین راه , and The Whisper of Love ز مز مه ی عشق this author defines, explores, and whispers love and he calls upon his sweetheart sending her various lovely messages.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Manouchehr Saadat Noury, PhD
1. Britannica Encyclopedia (2010): Note on “Valentine”.
2. Cambridge Online Dictionaries (2010): Note on “Valentine”.
3. Cotterell, A. and Storm, R. (1999): “The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Mythology”, ed., Hermes House, London, UK.
4. Price, M. (2001): Online Article on “Iranian Months, Their Origins and Origin of the Names”.
5. Saadat Noury, M. (2005-2009): Online Poems on “The Word of Love”, “The Best Word: The Best Road”, etc.
6. Saadat Noury, M. (2010): Online Article on “A Day to Celebrate Love and Friendship”.
7. Saadat Noury, M. (2009): Online Articles on “First Iranians”.
8. Shahriari, Sh. (2005): Online English Translation of Ghazal 178, Hafiz Poetry.
9. Webster’s Encyclopedic Dictionary (2007): Note on “Valentine”.
10. Wikipedia Encyclopedia (2010): Online Articles on “Zoroaster” and “Valentine”.
11. Zara Houshmand (2002): Online English Translation of Mowlana’s Quatrains.
Persian Poems on Love: هر روزتان روز عشق و مهربانی باد
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