On the occasion of Valentine’s Day today, it is worth reminding readers of a much older day celebrating love: The Syrian Love Day. It is true that the commonly-known Valentine’s Day has become part of the folk traditions and a significant cultural, religious, and commercial holiday of romance and love in many regions of the world, but it is also relatively recent compared to the Syrian one. I beg the pardon of His Holiness Pope Gelasius I and the faithful believers in Saint Valentine’s Day which was originated in February 14, 496 AD. I need to make it clear that you were not the first to glorify LOVE in a yearly celebration in history.
For more than 6000 years, the Syrian Love Day has been yearly celebrated every April 11. It is the oldest celebration of love in history.
The priestesses of Ishtar (goddess of love, sexuality, and fertility) used to perform the rituals of celebrating this holiday in the presence of daffodils or chamomile flowers (such as the one on the Ishtar Gate) and aged grape juice, in which the gods dance with all humans to spread love.
This celebration was first held to symbolize the victory of life over death after Ishtar rescued Tammuz from her polar opposite older sister Ereshkigal (goddess of darkness, hellfire, and death) and brought him back to life.
The goddess Ishtar and her beloved god Tammuz were the first and greatest icons of love in history and the oldest cry of love:
An excerpt from a Babylonian prayer to the goddess Ishtar:
To you, I raise my prayer, O Goddess of Goddesses and Goddess of Goddesses
O Ishtar, O goddess of all humankind and guider of their sins!
O mighty among princesses, great is your name
You are the one behind the past weapons and decide the battles
You are truly the goddess of the heavens and the earth, daughter of Sin
O my lady, who possesses all divine powers and wears the crown of the sultan
O my lady, who extends her glory and authority above the gods
O radiant with light, the lioness of the gods, and the submissive of those who are angry with them!
O radiant one, igniter of heaven and earth, and light of people
You are the one who judges truth and justice among people
You are the one who restores the rights of the oppressed and the oppressed
Goddess of men and women, no one understands your plans and actions
When you look at the dead, he lives, and the sick are healed
And your face will be guided by those who lead astray
Eido Hobo Prikho