The big VD approaches, and I don’t mean Venereal Disease Day, unless you happen to be down with that (is ANYONE down with Venereal Disease? Hmmm…) I thought it might be appropriate to write a little on the subject of Valentines Day.
Truth is, I don’t have much authority on the subject. CDH and I don’t celebrate Valentines Day, because, well, it’s like not celebrating Thanksgiving because you’re not American, it just doesn’t have any relevancy to us.
Don’t get me wrong, celebrating our love has HUGE relevancy. MASSIVE. EPICLY EPIC, in fact. Just not a random day invented in the 1800s by mashing together Christian and ancient traditions. Allow me to explain.
*puts on her historian’s hat*
St. Valentines Day involves vestiges of Christian and Pagan Roman traditions. Did you know the Catholic church accepts THREE different saints as St. Valentine? All three were martyrs. We’re told the holiday honours the saint’s death, but the Christian’s set the holiday in February to coincide with the Lupercallia festival, hoping to Christianise it, as they were want to do back then. Lupercallia is basically the Roman’s ‘Spring Cleaning’ festival – every citizen emptied their house, swept it out, sprinkled salt and spelt everywhere, and then went out into the streets for an epic party, where the luperci priesthood ran around slapping the women with meat from the sacrificial goat (seriously people. I can’t make this stuff up!)
One legend has Valentine wandering around during the reign of Claudius II, who had the ingenius idea that unwed men made better soldiers, so he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine thought that was rather naff, so kept performing marriage ceremonies, only ceasing when his head was no longer attached to his body.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent his first valentine himself. While in prison he fell in love with the jailor’s daughter (always a mistake, right there) and would send her letters signed ‘from your valentine.’ During the Medieval period, with all that courtly love and poetry and such nonsense, Valentines Day became more and more popular, especially in Britian. Pre-printed cards seemed a logical next step, especially given the nature of certian genders to forget these kind of things. America began swapping valentines in the 1700s.
Ester Howland created the first commerical valentines in the 1840s in America, from ribbons and lace and ‘scraps’, as she called them. Nowadays, over 1 billion cards are sent on valentines, 85% of them by women.
Crazy. Madness. I’m totally celebrating Lupercallia this weekend. Gonna slap me up my husband good with a rack of sacrificial goat meat…It’s gonna be rad.
What, Skully Brides and Grooms, if anything, will you do?