Valentine’s Day

Kind of a strange holiday, in that its modern form has nothing to do with the early Christian martyrs it originally honored (Saint Valentine of Rome and Saint Valentine of Terni, as well as possibly some other guy who was martyred in Africa). As in, absolutely nothing. The closest this holiday gets to a link with old traditions is Lupercalia (a fertility festival in ancient Rome) and the festival of Juno Februa (celebrating Juno “the purifier” in the rest of the Roman Empire). The original link between Valentines and romantic love was a few lines from Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules, which translate into normal English as “For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” He was actually referring, probably, to St. Valentine of Genoa’s feast day, May 2, since February is a weird time for birds in England to be mating. It is certain that being somone’s “Valentine” was a common phrase in England by Shakespeare’s time, since Ophelia uses the phrase in a song while insane:

To-morrow is Saint Valentine’s Day,

All in the morning betime,

And I a maid at your window

To be your Valentine.

Which sounds very sweet until the narrative reveals that the man in question promised to marry the girl, had sex with her, and then dumped her. That really sucks in medieval Denmark (or Elizabethan England).

Wow, that was way more research than I was planning to do for this. Personal thoughts: Valentine’s Day is a scam by candy and jewelry companies to make huge profits (especially in Japan. Look it up). That doesn’t mean it isn’t sort of fun, though. Do I mind being single today? Not really. Cuts down on the workload, that’s for sure.


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