Throwing Together Valentines Day

By A.K. Patch on Feb 14, 2017 at 01:25 AM

There is no doubt that when it comes to Valentine’s Day, the expectations run high – especially on the female side – as does the pressure and overwhelm – especially on the male side. What began as a day to take some time to express affection has become yet another gift-intense holiday sure to make the sanest guy wish it away.

Almost every guy out there knows how this plays out. With the holidays fading and work schedules becoming more demanding, January flies by. After you’ve crushed your last lost taco chip under foot from Super Bowl Sunday, Valentine’s Day beckons your attention. So lend me an ear, as the great Roman lover Marc Antony requested, and put February 14th on your calendar now.  You’ve got time to plan ahead, if you get to it.

Speaking of Romans, history tells us there have probably been more than one St. Valentines, but the following account fits nicely, so I’m going with it.

St. Valentine, as Christians did then, practiced his faith under the radar, including performing weddings – something that was against the law – until the powers at be found out. The Romans threw him in jail. He became friends with the jailer’s daughter, but he continued to perform marriages, upsetting the Emperor Claudius who leveled a death sentence on him. Before St. Valentine was executed in 270 A.D., he wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “From Your Valentine,” thus beginning the custom of sending Valentine’s. Is this the absolutely true story? Did the jailer’s daughter and Valentine fall in love? No one really knows. But it does smack of enough romance to make it seem viable. 

Far before St. Valentine there was the festival of Lupercalia, celebrated on Feb 15 and devoted to fertility and driving off evil spirits. In that word, ’Lupercalia’ you see the “Luper”, or “Lupus.”  You guessed it. “Canus Lupus” means wolf, as a kind of homage to the she-wolf who nursed the orphaned infant founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

Before we get our holidays and word derivations too complicated, this earlier festival in the early centuries of the Roman Republic involved dog and goat sacrifices along with men dressed up in goatskins running through the streets, whacking waiting woman on the hands with goat skin thongs to promise them fertility, easier childbirth, and to prevent sterility. Who knows? There must have been enough cause and effect to keep this ritual going because there are records of a similar festival held in Rome during the 15th Century.

Good fun dies hard.  So here we are, long practiced rites just ahead, and we ought to start thinking what we should do for our loved one – lest we be caught short on Valentine’s Day without flowers, candy, jewelry, or any of the other tokens which have long since replaced goat-skin thongs!.

Interesting facts are available in this article about Valentine’s Day. I'm always interested in how these kinds of holidays start and morph throughout history. For more, check out http://www.holidayinsights.com/holiday-fun/valentines-day-trivia.htm.

In Verona, Italy, Juliet of Shakespeare's, "Romeo and Juliet", still gets a thousand Valentines each year.

The estimates are that 64% of men do not make prior arrangements for the special day but shop on the day itself.

Stores are already filled with heart-shaped chocolate boxes and images of Cupid, the son of the Roman goddess, Venus. The arrow that Cupid draws is magical and will inspire feelings of love.

Here some ideas suggested in an article, "Twenty-Five Valentine's Ideas for Couples" by Mary May Larmoyuex of Family Life.  https://www.familylife.com/articles/topics/holidays/featured/valentines-day/25-valentines-day-ideas-for-couples 

You have some lead time. Pick one. She has some great ideas.

Allan Patch is the author of the contemporary/historical fiction thriller Apollo Series.Passage at Delphi and Delphi’s Chosen use contemporary characters, historical encounters, and page-turning adventure to pose the question: what must we learn from our past to ensure our future.