Monday, February 14, 2011
Valentine's Day is the commercialization of love. Sounds yummy, doesn't it? I have a somewhat cynical view of love...partly from following domestic homicides in the news and on the web for years, and partly from personal experience.
According to Wikipedia, there may have been several Saints Valentine....or at least martyrs by that name. A couple of them were buried by the Via Flaminia on February 14th, but nobody seems to know a whole lot about any of them. Consequently, St Valentine was one of those dumped when the Catholic church had its big clean-up in 1969.
The hapless martyr did not become associated with romance until the 1400s. We have Chaucer to thank for that.
In another Wikipedia article, describing Valentine's day, the name was slapped onto the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Lupercalia was, of course, a fertility celebration...something frowned upon by the church. The church wanted to keep track of who was being fertile with whom, so fertility was best confined to christian marriage. Fertility for its own sake looked like entirely too much fun to the early popes, so they attempted to christianize all the pagan parties. They had limited success.
Anyway, Chaucer glommed onto the idea in the 15th Century, and it has been downhill ever since. Through the 19th Century, the handmade greeting cards gave way to mass-produced ones, and the Hallmark Holiday was born. The tradition expanded to include flowers and chocolate...and now we have the modern Valentine's Day, with costumes, accessories, dinner, lingerie and diamonds. Now, Valentines are not only for lovers and other flirty people, but also for kids, bosses, secretaries, moms, dads, teachers and generally anyone we might want to show a little affection for.
So, to all my friends and loved ones...have a happy day. Have a happy day tomorrow, too, and all the other days on which we are not required to buy cards and other junk.
Me? I'm off to Walgreens to buy myself a box of chocolates. I will cover the "nutrition information" with Magic Marker and thoroughly enjoy the decadence.