Valentine’s Day seems to be one of those things that polarises people. Folks seem to love it or loathe it. Cynics say that it’s a fabricated holiday to get people to buy cards and chocolate. Single people can feel even more single. Couples can have differing expectations about whether or not, or how they’d like to celebrate it, which can lead to misunderstanding and disappointment. Some couples use it as an occasion to celebrate the romance and passionate love in their relationship.
Valentine’s Day actually has its origins in the pre-Christian Roman festival of Lupercalia (in honor of the pastoral god Lupercus), which took place over the Ides of February. Though it began as a religious rite devoted to agriculture, over time it evolved into a festival of merriment and kinky sexual horseplay.
Eligible women wrote their names on clay tablets and placed them in an earthen jar. Eligible young men then picked out a woman’s name at random, and the two were paired off. Depending on whose version of history you accept, this would last a few hours, a day, or even a year. It is believed this evolved into the medieval custom where secret admirers sent anonymous greetings on St. Valentine’s Day,
which in turn led to the modern practice of “sending a Valentine.”
Rome was Christian by the 4th Century CE, and the church banned the old pagan festivals. Even so, the church was only partly successful. People stubbornly resisted the end of Lupercalia, and it was the last to go. A substitute became necessary and St. Valentine’s Day emerged to celebrate a more innocent love.
Well, Steve and I both love Valentine’s Day. Any excuse to have good food and be romantic! We normally talk about it beforehand and decide how we’re going to celebrate. In the 5 years that we’ve been together, we’ve variously gone out to dinner, exchanged cards and hand-written poems or cooked a fabulous meal at home. He was out of town last year and I posted a card to him.
This Valentine’s Day, we started the morning with heart-shaped pancakes
and ended the day with Prosecco and smoked salmon & rack of lamb with potatoes dauphinois and spinach and a nice bottle of Syrah. At home in our candle lit dining chamber.
After all is said and done, 14th February is just a date on the calendar. I decree that Valentine’s Day is a state of mind. In the words of Lorenz Hart, “each day is Valentine’s Day”.