Valentine's Day (SL-2)

~ The Savvy World of Love: Valentine’s Day ~


Hearts and flowers on Valentine’s day.

heart shaped candy, help me say:

I Love you in a special way,

because love is the reason for Valentine’s day.

Valentine’s day is a special time

for songs to sing

and poems that rhyme,

a happy time for everyone.

I’m so glad you're a friend of mine

-Kelly Russell

February 14th is the day of love. Smooth chocolates, heartfilled letters, perfumed roses, and plushed animals circle around our annual holiday. Although it wasn’t always sweet and adorable, but was bloody and dangerous.

In Rome, February 15th was the day of fertilizing and feasting. Sacrificed goats and dogs, bloodied hides, whipped pregnant women, and crazed men surrounded the origin of our lovely Valentine’s Day. This festival was called Lupercalia*.  The ancient festival was conducted under a group of priests called Luperci. The ceremony would begin with the priests’ foreheads being caressed with the goats’ blood. "Many of the noble youths and of the magistrates* run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs.” -Greek writer Plutarch. Men created whips out of the animals’ remains and abused pregnant women. They believed slapping them with the bloody strips of goat would help their pregnancy. Even worse, Plutarch continues to explain how some women would, “purposely get in their way.” This festival came from the same culture that well defined patriarchy*. The goal would be to whip, or fertilize, as many women by the end of the night. Without this ritual, early Romans believed their cities would be cursed.


“What kind of religion is this?”

-”The ancient Roman religion, or Roman mythology, was the main religion of ancient Rome. Several gods and goddesses impacted the daily lives of Romans. Especially on February 15th.”

“What would Rome be like without Lupercalia?”

-”Romans believed Lupercalia traditions lifted evil spirits and purified their cities by releasing health and fertility. Romans believed their cities would become sick, possessed, and dirty without the annual ritual.”

“Why is it called, “Valentine’s Day?”

The commercial holiday was named after Saint Valentine who was canonized* by the Roman Catholic Church*. He was a patron of intimate love, joyful marriages, and young people. Although, several men named Valentine were martyred* for Christianity as well; Emperor Claudius II killed two Valentines in the 3rd century (both on February 14th) . During his rule, Claudius had forbade marriage. Valentine of Rome illegally married people, so he was executed by Claudius. The second, Valentine of Terni, cured blindness and was a spiritual leader. Historians don’t know which Valentine the holiday is named after, or if it could be all of them.

The Lupercalia festival lived on through the rise of Christianity (c. 313), but as the Roman Catholic Church gained popularity in the next two hundred years the festival was discontinued. Pope Gelasius* replaced the holiday with one more pure, “St. Valentine’s Day,” in the late 5th century. He saw the festival Lupercalia as disgusting, so he had sent an 1,800-paged letter to Andromachus, the Roman senator. It wasn’t till later when the holiday centered around the idea of love.

In 1348-1350 the Black Death pandemic spread across Europe. Killing almost ⅔ of the population, the Black Death took over. The disease was a form of the bubonic plague and was almost unstoppable. During this hectic time, people began to point fingers. Jews were accused of spreading the disease through wells to poison their non-Jewish neighbors. The conflict went on so long and eventually their Christian neighbors cracked. On St. Valentine’s Day, 1349, Christians burned their Jewish neighbors to death in Strasbourg, of the Alsace region. It’s estimated that 2,000 Jews died at maximum in the Strasbourg massacre. The massacre was only one of a whole line of pogroms* in several towns of Western Europe. More recently, another massacre on St. Valentine’s Day occurred in 1929. Seven men of the North Side gang were killed between the struggle of the Irish American and South Side Italian gang in Lincoln Park, Chicago. Throughout history, Valentine’s Day carried not only happy memories, but also sad.

Today in 2017, Valentine’s Day is celebrated all over the world. In America we celebrate by purchasing anything and everything soft, pretty, or delicious for our loved ones. Because of all the purchases, I believe America adopted this annual holiday for money. Other places celebrate in different ways:

-- Like Christmas in America, a mysterious, joyful man leaves candies and presents at every house. His name is Jack Valentine.

-- France’s banned ritual was named loterie d’amour, “drawing for love.” If not chosen by a man, a woman would meet with others around a bonfire. As the women chanted and insulted the men who did them wrong, they burned pictures.

-- On this holiday, women wear their hearts on their sleeves, literally. Pinning the name of their love interest on their arms, women hope to be noticed by their special man. At festivals, flowers and tokens of love are exchanged.

-- South Koreans celebrate Valentine’s Day on three different days. February 14th is for the women, March 14th is for the Men, and April 14th is for the singles. On April 14th, citizens without relationships mourn their solitary statuses by eating black noodles throughout the day.

From whipping scared women with bloody goat hides to exchanging cute letters and mouth-watering chocolates, Valentine’s Day has come a long way. Lupercalia was brutal and insane, but today Valentine’s Day will live on as the most sweet and adorable holiday of the year.

February 14th, the day of black noodles, creepy festivals, love letters, and off-brand Santas.

CANONIZED - - “(Roman Catholic Church) officially declared (a dead person) to be a saint.” 

ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH - - “A form of Christianity, with the pope on the top. Along with the pope is a hierarchy*, and bishops and priests are on the lower levels.”

HIERARCHY - - “according to status or authority, people are ranked one above the other for organization”

PATRIARCHY - - “a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it.”

LUPERCALIA - - (Latin, neuter plural of lupercalis ‘relating to Lupercus,’ Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan)

POGROMS  - - “an organized massacre of a particular ethnic group, in particular that of Jews in Russia or eastern Europe.”

Pope Gelasius - - “He was pope from March 1, 492 to his death in 496. A bishop of Rome of Berber descent in the Catholic Church”

{ F  u  n     F  a  c  t  s }

Rome keeps one of the St. Valentine’s skull on display for morbid tourists.

Julius Caesar, a play by Shakespeare begins during the Lupercalia. In hope that his wife, Calpurnia, would become pregnant, Caesar is told to strike his wife by Mark Antony.

Valentine’s Day wasn’t the only popular holiday that came out of ancient Europe. Christmas, Halloween, and Easter also originated in the same continent.

France had the first evidence of a Valentine’s love letter in 1415. Charles, Duke of Orleans was captured, but still sent his wife a love letter for the holiday.

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