It’s yet another Valentine’s Day. For some it is filled with happiness and love, all warm and fuzzy. For others, a reminder that we are either losers, rejects or mending a broken heart. It is kind of like being the last kid picked for a game in school, which I might add, was me on more than one occasion. I started honing my rationalization skills at a very early age.
Don’t get me wrong I have had boyfriends, and I have been married, and have celebrated a lot of Valentines Days. Out of all those celebrations there is only one that sticks out in my memory as being really special, and I learned a valuable lesson. Being newly divorced and without a boyfriend, I was wallowing in the land of, woe is me, and I am such a loser. My dearest friend Michael and his boyfriend took pity on me and invited me over to celebrate with them. On the drive over I was wondering how I was going to turn spending Valentines Day with my two gay friends into something wonderful. They made a wonderful dinner and even bought me a present. It could have been the lowest point in my Valentine’s Day memory bank, but it taught me that it is not about all the commercial hype brought to us by Hallmark. It is about truly being with people that love you and that you love.
Now for some reality on the subject. The roots of this day are far from warm and fuzzy!
Those Wild and Crazy Romans
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. For more about this check http://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day
So as you are buying the candy, perfume, lovely mushy cards, making dinner reservations or making up a story to tell your friend so that they don’t feel sorry for you, remember you could be living back in the days of Rome!
Happy Valentines Day to everyone!