So, today is Valentine's Day. Well, to be proper, it's actually St. Valentine's Day though the Catholic Church doesn't seem to know much about him and doesn't seem to care much about the holiday today. They dropped this as a holiday in 1969 from the Roman Catholic Calendar of Saints. They haven't taken to denouncing it, though.
When I was a mere lad, we would make little Valentine's Day cards and hand them out in school. A little confusing since we had no idea what it really meant. That would happen around puberty. And then we weren't looking for romantic love but for something a bit baser.
Chaucer seems to be the man to thank (or blame, depending on your point of view) for our modern view of this day. He wrote about courtly love (though that term came into being hundreds of years later)which is the basis for Valentine's Day. It seems to mean a love that is pure or spiritual and not carnal in nature.
Valentine's Day is about romantic love, the kind that seems to impress the womenfolk. Men are a bit more practical, you might say, and we play along. Yet another difference between the sexes. Though I sometimes wonder if that isn't just cultural window dressing. It seems to have worked out okay since there are a lot of people on this planet and there's only one way for that to come about.
Most scholars tie this day to a Roman festival called Lupercalia. This festival had something to do with fertility. It seems that many festivals had to do with fertility. Humans are a randy sort, after all.
Plutarch described Lupercalia:
Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy. [Wikipedia]
Sounds like a lot of fun to me...
In any event, it is much tamer today.
Happy Valentine's Day!
A Night Unremembered
6 years ago