If you haven’t gotten your sweetheart a Valentine’s gift yet, you still have time. Men all around the country are calling florists or stopping by their sweetheart’s favorite candy or jewelry store to pick up evidence to the one they love that they do not deserve to spend the night on the couch.
Last night I was watching a rerun of the television show The Big Bang Theory and Dr. Sheldon Cooper said that he could not understand how the execution of a monk named Valentine could have lead to the holiday that we now celebrate on February 14th. For all the Sheldons out there, I researched the story. Today, Valentine’s Day is a day when we celebrate love and romance by giving flowers, cupids and candy to our sweethearts, however, the origins of this holiday are not so romantic.
The celebration dates back to ancient Rome when men “hitting on women” was not a euphemism, but was a literal practice. It began as a three-day celebration, February 13-15 when the Romans celebrated the Feast of Lupercalia. Men sacrificed a goat and a dog then whipped women with the hides of the goat and the dog. The women actually lined up for the men to hit them because they believed that the practice would make them fertile. Afterwards, the men drew women’s names from a clay pot. The pair would be mated for the remainder of the festival and if the man liked the woman, he would claim her permanently. On February 14, Emperor Claudius II executed two men named Valentine. The Catholic church honored their martyrdom with St. Valentine’s Day. In order to rid the Christian society of pagan rituals, around 400 AD, Pope Gelasius I combined St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia. At that time however, the festival was more like Marti Gras except people kept their clothes on. Until they got home anyway. It was still, after all, a day of fertility and love.
During the same time, in France, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day which meant the “lover of women”. Tokens-du-jour, the first Valentine’s Day cards became popular during the Middle Ages. Chaucer and William Shakespeare helped popularize Valentine’s Day in Britain and Europe.
A Vintage Valentine’s Day Card
Valentine’s Day followed the immigrants over the big pond to the New World. In 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Missouri produced the first factory-made valentines. Valentine’s Day is now big business. Last year, the average American spent $130.97 on candy, cards, and gifts. This year, according to the National Retail Federation,The average person will spend $133.91 on candy, cards, gifts, dinner and more. They expect total spending to reach $17.3 billion. That’s a lot of money spent on a holiday that once involved sacrificing dogs and goats and men named Valentine.
I hope you don’t mind that I went off the track of writing history related to the American Revolution. During the winter months, not much went on militarily and so it makes it difficult to find history to write about during this time of the year.
I wrote two more hubs on Hubpages to share. Simply click on the links to check them out.
Sweet Homegrown Carrots
Plant Sweet Peppers with Basil
Also, I hope you had a good week. I know the east coast has been hit by a massive storm that left almost a half a million people without power or heat. My prayers are with them. I hope the weekend is better for them than the week has been. Here in the Midwest, we are heading into a warming trend, I hope that means that spring is on the way. I have a special surprise to share on Monday. I hope to see you then.