Feb. 14, 2000

Lupercalia

I wasn't going to do this. I tried to ignore it. I told Hubby and kids not to get or do anything because I wasn't "into" it this year. And the wretched word "valentine" hasn't appeared in this journal yet.. until now. (Whoops I just realized I used it last entry. Nevermind.)

Of course I'm a day late, as usual. As I write this, the 14th is over and my home is a valentine-free zone (except for Older Son's room.. girlfriend, you know.)

The older I get, the more I detest holidays that have become blatantly commercialized. Anything that sends you off to the mall muttering "I have to get something for A and something for B.." is bad. I don't want anything that someone feels they have to get me. (Well, unless it's jewelry, maybe.) I'm all for love, in all its forms, romantic and otherwise.. I grew up in the 60's after all.. but this holiday isn't about love, it's about making sure you don't piss off the people who are important to you.

It starts in childhood, at school. I still remember the sinking feeling in my stomach when I didn't receive as many valentines as many of the kids. Some teachers try to avoid this by making it compulsory for everybody to send cards to the entire class, but then it's meaningless. This holiday is also difficult for unhappily unattached people, and those in unhappy relationships. The unrelenting media hoopla sends the message that if you're not fulfilled in love, (or even if you are but your lover forgets to shop for you) then you're a loser. Not to mention those who have lost loved ones through no fault of their own. I don't think that leaves a large percentage of the population unscathed.

The holiday has come a long way from its origins... and it might be argued, gone full circle. A quick web search revealed that Valentine's Day is generally accepted to have come from the pagan festival of Lupercalia. Lupercus was a Roman god whose duty it was to keep the wolves from the door (literally). (Symbolism, anyone?) On this feast day which was Feb. 15, a name-drawing ritual was held, wherein young men drew the names of young women from a box, and got to keep the woman for the year.

Christianity eventually put an end to Lupercalia and the lady lottery, substituting the name of a martyred saint, Valentine, and a saint lottery, for choosing the name of a saint to emulate for the year. Not much fun for the boys, anymore.

I doubt that Valentine's Day is perceived as a Christian holiday anymore, and we even forget to use the "St." most of the time. The fact that it's allowed into American public schools must mean it's devoid of any religious content. So we're back to a courting ritual with heavy sexual overtones, and heavier commercialization.

Does love have ANYTHING to do with it??

Linque Du Jour:

More like the above can be found at the aptly named "VD.. Searching for a Cure" collection of faux-valentinalia, assembled by Patrick.

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