Monday, February 8, 2010

How -- and what -- will you celebrate?

Once again, I'm going to stray from the weekly topic and discuss the "root" of the problem — Valentine's Day.

As a wife and mother, I have to celebrate the day. It's expected.

As a woman, I'm supposed to demand chocolates and flowers.

As an individual, though, I'd be happy with a good book and breakfast in bed.

When I was out selecting cards for hubby and teenager, I got to thinking about the meaning of St. Valentine's Day. I'm mostly convinced that the holiday (as we know it) can be blamed on Esther A. Howland, who first started mass-producing cards in the 1850s. Thanks to her, at least a quarter of ALL cards are sent in February. I'm sure she's the "patron saint of Hallmark." Or at least she should be.

Supposedly, St. Valentine's Day was created in honor of a Catholic priest who defied the Roman Emperor's rule that soldiers weren't to be married. Valentine married young, happy couples in secret and they all lived happily ever after.

Yeah. Right.

Yet, there's another celebration that may hold the key to the origins of the holiday.

Lupercalia, is an ancient festival which honored Remus and Romulus, the twins who discovered the site where Rome would be built, and the she-wolf which nursed them. The festival, which took place on Feb. 15, celebrated fertility and health. It chased off evil spirits and purified the city.

That holiday doesn't seem to have made it into the present day celebrations. I wonder why. Maybe a mass-produced card honoring a she-wolf just didn't sell. Who knows...

So which will you celebrate? Valentines Day? Or Lupercalia? Both? Or neither?

Personally, I think I'll just eat some chocolate and call it good!


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