Saturday, February 14, 2009

The History of Saint Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day started in the time of the Roman Empire. In ancient Rome, February 14th was a holiday to honour Juno. Juno was the Queen of the Roman Gods and Goddesses. The Romans also knew her as the Goddess of women and marriage. The following day, February 15th, began the Feast of Lupercalia.

The lives of young boys and girls were strictly separate. However, one of the customs of the young people was name drawing. On the eve of the festival of Lupercalia the names of Roman girls were written on slips of paper and placed into jars. Each young man would draw a girl's name from the jar and would then be partners for the duration of the festival with the girl whom he chose. Sometimes the pairing of the children lasted an entire year, and often, they would fall in love and would later marry.

Under the rule of Emperor Claudius II Rome was involved in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius the Cruel was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. He believed that the reason was that roman men did not want to leave their loves or families. As a result, Claudius cancelled all marriages and engagements in Rome. The good Saint Valentine was a priest at Rome in the days of Claudius II. He and Saint Marius aided the Christian martyrs and secretly married couples, and for this kind deed Saint Valentine was apprehended and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. He suffered martyrdom on the 14th day of February, about the year 270. At that time it was the custom in Rome, a very ancient custom, indeed, to celebrate in the month of February the Lupercalia, feasts in honour of a heathen god. On these occasions, amidst a variety of pagan ceremonies, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed.

The pastors of the early Christian Church in Rome endeavoured to do away with the pagan element in these feasts by substituting the names of saints for those of maidens. And as the Lupercalia began about the middle of February, the pastors appear to have chosen Saint Valentine's Day for the celebration of this new feast. So it seems that the custom of young men choosing maidens for valentines, or saints as patrons for the coming year, arose in this way.

Gradually, February 14 became the date for exchanging love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers. The date was marked by sending poems and simple gifts such as flowers. There was often a social gathering or a ball.

Now to me, I have never been one to side with the celebrating of Valentine's Day. To me it is an advertising nightmare to make women feel they deserve and men to feel guilty. I set forth early in my dating years to ban this holiday. First and foremost it is an incredible waste of money, a Hallmark Holiday, retailers jacking up prices on very cheesy items of "affection", florist charging outrageous prices for flowers that inevitably die (I always felt this was a sign of relationships, beautiful at first then withering and gone in such a short time).

I would explain to MD in the beginning when he brought gifts to me on this day that I loved him for the effort but they were meaningless on this day when men "HAD" to show they loved you. I wanted him to show me 365 days a year he loved me and not because society said he had to but because he wanted to. Flowers just because, and not $100 bundle either, everyday flowers for no apparent reason were the best. MD caught on quickly, he would occasionally bring home a bundle of flowers from whatever supermarket he was in on that particular day. Presenting them to me with a card stating "love you all 365 days". They were and still are the best. Just because he thought of me that day. Emails from him work the same magic in my heart. Just a note "I was just thinking of you". That is all they say, but it says so much to me. And makes my heart sing, my eyes water, and my mind wander.

I have always thought it strange for me, a female, to feel this way. I thought I was all alone in feeling the way I did, that there was something wrong with me. Maybe that I had too many male friends that influenced the way my brian worked. I would listen to other female friends and co-workers "gush" over what their boyfriends got them and what they did on Valentine's Day. I very much felt sorry for these men. As it sounded like something of "mine is better than yours" type of discussions. These guys really had no idea that it is a contest of who could out do who? I have had heard several male friends complaining about how their girlfriends liked what they received at first but then all of sudden it was not good enough, or they always had to do better the next year (or holiday). I vowed then and their I would NEVER put a boyfriend through that kind of punishment. Most time than not I made sure I had become single before this holiday came. I do find that the older I get the more women I find that also have the same distaste of this same holiday. Thank goodness I am not alone.

But with MD, it was funny at first, he made it so hard on himself, and of course I was no help, I did not like receiving those kind of gifts. Over the years he has gotten use to the fact I do not like these types of holiday gifts. He does still get up and tells me "Happy Valentine's Day, Love", give me a generous hug and a kiss. Now that I can live with and enjoy.

Today will be like every other day, for one thing MD is working, dinner will be had at home, no waiting 2 hours to get a table in a very crowded restaurant, to end up getting poor service from some swamped server. And then paying way to much for way to little.

What ever happend to showing love and kindness to your loved one every day, not once a year. Really how have we evolved as a society that thrives on the material things.


Cindi said...

You are absolutely right. I told my husband that I didn't want a card, flowers, candy, or a gift today. It's as though it's been "forced" by society to step up to the plate and "do the right thing."

We've just spent part of the day getting our tax information straightened out, and that's enough to make me happy!

Laggin said...

I like going out for dinner or something because it's usually a chance to escape as a couple. But I hear you as to the competition for gifts. It seems sillier and sillier.

Ethan said...

From the man's point of view, I totally agree with you, M.

It's a silly little waste of a day for silly people to spend silly money they can't afford to spend and then get in trouble with their silly significant other when they still don't spend enough.

This has absolutely nothing to do with me being able to attend a woodworking seminar on Valentine's Day, either.