Valentine’s Day

This is my first of many blogs.  I have a lot to say and am very good at putting thoughts into words.  Lots of thoughts, about a very diverse set of topics.  I like to talk, and listen.  If I don’t know much about something I listen intently.  It’s much harder when I know a lot.   My new job gives me a constant supply of new information, and I love it.  I like to know as much as possible about everything I can, which means at times I move from one interest to others almost completely.  Like when I was reading about quantum physics and quantum theory for a while, but more on that later.  Here is my declaration of sorts for this first blog post. 

I; being the smart yet ignorant guy wanted to find out more about the history of Valentine’s Day.  Mainly because I constantly call it a Hallmark Holiday that has little meaning; I wanted to know the facts for once.  And I found them, more than enough to sooth my mind.  With that being said; I will start with something easy, personal, and from the heart.  

I think most guys are happy to do everything for the woman in their life that Valentine’s Day may require.  If any ladies are reading, when I say require don’t get mad; Valentine’s Day means different things to different people.  That is the point of this blog, a singular guy’s point of view of this particular holiday.  Again REQUIRE.  So for the ladies, the requirement could be just spending time with your guy!  Nice!  For others, it could mean flowers at work and a nice dinner. Also nice!  For others it could mean all that and some chocolate, jewelry, a new car, house, etc you get the point.  I guess the biggest difference in the range of things is how much you really like flowers and chocolate and a nice dinner on this particular February night, versus how much you care about what other people think about you. 

 The problem for most guys (at least I hope) is why society (traditions and economics) dictate what day it must be, and how it should be?  Very thoughtful gestures any other day or days of the year like trips out of town, finding a new restaurant you both love, jewelry, tickets to a game or show she wants to see, or even something simple like a dude making dinner naked.  These could very well be lost if a guy screws up this one day in February!  Moving on….

Now I have a couple ex-girlfriends and one part-time lover (love that phrase) that I know despise Valentine’s Day, possibly even more than me.  In fact, one who is married in an open relationship took offense to me saying I’m sure she would be busy and not able to meet me on Sunday!  I was trying to be nice!  She uses the term Hallmark Holiday religiously (Ha love religious puns).  So besides caring about what other people think, what is the difference?  Is it where you work, like in an office where all the other ladies are getting flowers and Vermont teddy bears?  And boy don’t those single ladies in the office feel bad that they don’t get anything?  Honestly, as much as I think this holiday has become ridiculous, I feel bad for them.  It really is kind of crazy how one day could make someone feel so bad for not having a love of their life.  So; is it personality, society, work environment, type of friends?  Although I hate to say it maybe even income level or potential income level of the guy and how much he can spend?  I believe all of these things may play a part, depending on the person and environment they live and work in.  Enough subjective thought, now let’s delve into the actual history of the holiday.

  Valentine’s Day was established around 498 AD by Pope Gelasius the first.  Named after a few Christian martyrs, most notably Valentine of Terni and Valentine of Rome.  The Catholic Encyclopedia also lists a third Valentine who died in Africa, of which little else is known.  From the very start of the holiday’s origins; if you are not at least Catholic or Christian at the very least, there is absolutely no reason to do anything on this day.  Okay; so other than that, the best part about the history of the three martyrs is that they have no romantic element in their known history whatsoever! 

Now, there are a lot of legends… namely one about Roman soldiers being banned from marriage by Emperor Claudius II and a Roman priest named Valentine who continued to perform marriages in secret; eventually being put to death for his actions.  And then there is a legend about the same Valentine being put to death for helping Christians escape Roman prisons.  The point is they are only legends, the Catholic Church named the holiday after the few Valentine’s for reasons far from romance.  

So then, what was the reasoning for this holiday besides having three martyred saints?  For the Catholic Church, who started Valentine’s Day; there is only one reason that is applicable besides celebrating the death of the martyred saints.  It is disputed that it may have been an attempt to “Christianize” celebrations of the Pagan Lupercalia festival. This festival began on February 15th, the official Roman beginning of spring and a ritual time of cleansing (the historical start of spring cleaning).  Roman’s would sweep out their house, then sprinkle salt and spelt throughout.  It gets better trust me.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification.

The boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. The Roman ‘lottery’ system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.  Even Catholics people do not celebrate this holiday anymore, since 1969!  Because,;since apart from his name, nothing is known of Saint Valentine except that he was buried on the Via Flaminia on February 14!

So with that being said, when did Valentine’s Day change from a Catholic holiday to what we see now?  The commercial side of things started in Britain in the seventeenth century.  And by the eighteenth century, people of all classes friends or lovers would exchange hand written notes or cards.  Around 1840 is when the Valentine’s Day card started in America.

Esther A. Howland was the first to mass produce the Valentine’s Day card in America.  Instead of hand written as they were for the previous 100 years or so (in America), these were the cookie cutter type common when we were all kids at school.  You would give them to everyone in class and not think anything of it.  As much as I think the holiday is hogwash, I still think that if you are going to do something for Valentine’s Day, do it right and for only one person obviously!  I would go into the commercialism of this holiday more, but nobody needs to hear it.  Everyone knows it is just big business dictating, that is America.  We …… well I should save that for another post. 

Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to everyone, I really am actually Catholic!

Smart yet Ignorant Guy

I’m learning though

One Response to “Valentine’s Day”

  1. smartyetignorantguy Says:

    I didn’t realize this was so long, it only took me an hour! Sorry all, had fun writing it though.

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