Yo, Cupid. Leave Me Alone!
The Basically Brooklyn Series
On Sunday, February 14, 2010, men all over the world will dig into recession battered pockets and fork over a small fortune in long stemmed roses, Hallmark Cards, chocolate candies, candlelit dinners, seductive wines and a rousing chorus of Whitney Houston's, "I Will Always Love You."
Such are the expectations of Valentine's Day, a day for which we shower our loved ones and stimulate the economy with massive spending designed to ease guilt over the neglect prevailing the rest of the year.
Where did this holiday of love actually come from and is it really all about love, or, is it really a lesson in putting your life on the line, like Saint Valentine, who probably didn't live to see the morning of the 15th.
Legend has three Saint Valentine's accounting for the holiday celebrated as Saint Valentine's Day and as most divorce lawyers are happy to report, nothing any good ever came out of the actions of any one of those three Saint V's. Claudius the Second, ruler of Rome way back in the Third Century first brought Saint Valentine to prominence.
Claudius was a conservative obsessed with matters of national security and so awoke one morning with a brainstorm. In his infinite wisdom, Claudius decided the best-made soldiers were single soldiers, or, soldiers without wives. So, he made marriage illegal. No referendums. No million-dollar ads and no discriminating against those seeking same-sex marriage.
In one fell swoop, Claudius did away with marriage and divorce lawyers, but as Dick Cheney can attest, every kingdom has its subversives, and Saint Valentine may have been the very first.
Valentine's Day may very well be a celebration of this Liberal's life, for under the rule of Claudius the Second, St. Valentine, a Catholic Priest decried the injustice of this decree and secretly performed marriages of young hearts entangled. At least until Rome's Department of Homeland Security discovered the subversive actions of Saint Valentine and ceremoniously put the, eh, Priest to death. Excuse me for asking, but if this is the Priest for which we have the holiday, what exactly are we celebrating here?
The second Saint Valentine should be credited with making Hallmark the major corporation it is today. This would be the Saint Valentine who actually designed and sent off the first Valentine's Day card in recorded history. He did this in the confines of his prison cell after having fallen in love with his jailer's daughter. He signed the card, "...from your Valentine," and is the most popular Saint of all in places like England and France. His crime? He helped prisoners escape from harsh prisons where torture and beatings were common occurrences. It was right after the jailer's daughter received this little ole Valentine's Day card that the Saint was put to death. Am I beginning to see a pattern here?
The third Saint Valentine was actually believed to be a Priest who suffered in Africa, the key word here being suffered; while others believe Valentines Day may have been part of an effort to end the Pagan Celebration of Lupercalia, a festival, celebrating unabated sex.
In preparation of the festival, February 14 was set aside as love lottery day, in which woman would throw their names into a hat and men would merely pick their partners for the festival by drawing from the collection of names. The festival included slaughtering animals, painting bodies in blood and offering the carcasses to the sacred grotto of She-wolf.
Today, we go clubbing and and end up sacrificing blood, sweat and tears for the partner of our dreams. Valentine's Day is upon us. Cupid stands ready with his poison tipped arrow. Have you seen the price of roses these days?