Valentine's Day (TT-5)

The Truth Behind Love’s Exterior

February 14th. While others’ anticipation can’t hold them down, the rest of us sit and dread for the day to come. We all know Valentine’s Day as a time of love and an invitation for men to carry on their cheesy cliches, but do we really know the truth behind all the chocolate, flowers, and bling?

Valentine’s Day actually dates back all the way to the Romans during the 3rd century A.D. and it was rather violent during these times. They spent this time of the year celebrating a holiday which they called, Lupercalia. The Romans would kill dogs and goats using their hide to create makeshift whips. With these animal hides, they spanked women who lined up in beliefs it would help them become more fertile. Later, men would pull women’s names out of a jar and would spend the rest of the night together doing whatever your scandalous imagination wants to believe. Around this time, a man who went by the name (you guessed it) Valentine, was executed because he held marriages for soldiers who were believed to give a better performance in war if they were single. This is how Valentine’s Day, a day we all know and love, came to be.

Over time, Valentine’s Day became more and more gushy and sweet. Shakespeare and others romanticized this special day in their works of writing. But one particular English poet completely revolutionized the romance level of this holiday.

Geoffrey Chaucer.

In the 1380’s, Chaucer wrote a poem with 700 lines titled “The Parliament of Fowls.” If you asked, many scholars would recognize this as the first piece of writing to ever connect romantic love with Valentine’s Day. Basically, the poem discusses February 14th as the day for birds to choose their mates. The male eagles try to settle the issue between each other by giving speeches, arguing why they are most worthy to marry a female eagle. While Nature is moderating this session, instructs the female eagle to wait a year to make her decision. The parliament’s purpose is for birds to pair up with one another. This poem gave popularity when associating romance with Valentine’s Day leading to celebrations. Eventually, Valentine’s Day reached the United States. And trust me. It did not take long before we decided the holiday wasn’t American enough for us. We stripped the holiday of its value and began to change traditions. Because of this, companies who sell chocolate, jewelry, flowers, and cards thrive. Valentine’s Day is seen as a gold mine for businesses. Especially Hallmark, Tiffany’s, and any fancy, high end restaurants. Hallmark took this time as an advantage to make big bucks for the company and began mass production. In 2010, they actually reached sales of $17.6 billion. Also, Valentine’s Day is the second largest seasonal card sending time, losing by quite a bit to Christmas.

Now let us all take a moment as we look at a few very fun facts about our beloved Valentine’s Day. Every year, approximately 6 million people get engaged. Also, keep in mind, this isn’t including all of those who actually tie the knot on this day. In 2016, $4.4 billion was spent on jewelry, such as earrings, necklaces, and rings. $1.7 billion was spent on candy alone. Lastly, this past year on Valentine’s Day, 250 million roses were produced coming to a total of $2 billion in sales. This all sounds like a little much, right? I can’t be the only one thinking this is a tad over the top. How did we actually get to these customs anyways? Believe it or not, these traditions originated in the United Kingdom. In 1868, the company we all drool over, Cadbury, began creating decorated boxes of chocolates in the shape of a heart for Valentine’s Day. This lead rapidly towards chocolates and other candies and sweets being associated with this holiday. Later, in the 20th century, exchanging cards developed into giving loved ones a little bit more because there is nothing that shows how much you love someone than jewelry, amiright?

We have finally reached my most favorite part of Valentine’s Day. Myths and legends.

Cupid is probably the most well known myth of Valentine’s Day. Many people love to say when they fall in love at first sight it is almost as if they’ve been shot by Cupid’s arrow. In Roman mythology, Cupid is the god of love and his mother is the goddess of love. They are the ultimate dynamic duo. Now, as the story goes, Cupid fell in love with a woman who went by the name of Psyche. They soon got married, but it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It was actually rather odd. Cupid had instructed Psyche to never look at him and only visited her at night. As most sisters do, Psyche’s sisters talked her into breaking his rule and taking a look at him despite his warning. So one night when he came to visit, she lit a lamp, illuminating the room. And that was the end of it. Cupid left her immediately. As she was searching for him, she was being hunted by his mother, who despised her and envied her natural beauty. Venus gave Psyche a list of perilous tasks, each being more difficult than the one before. Her final mission was to deliver a box to the underworld and collect some of the beauty of Proserpine. Venus insisted the box was not to be opened but obviously she would decide to open the box anyways. As she opened it, she realized nothing was there but deadly slumber and she had fell right into Cupid’s mother’s trap. I guess we could all say “curiosity killed the cat.” Teehee. But anyways, Cupid later came upon Psyche’s dead, empty body. He was overcome with emotion, as he has truly loved her this whole time, and forgave Psyche. He swept the deadly slumber back inside the little box and the gods made the choice of deeming Psyche as a goddess. They lived happily ever after! The end. :D

Because Cupid is so happy he takes on his duty to spread the love with others. Maybe he will shoot you with his arrows next year, who knows?

All in all, the journey of Valentine’s Day, as we know it, is pretty freaking weird. We romanticized a holiday dedicated to the death of a Roman man who performed marriages for soldiers in secrecy. Whether it be your crush in elementary school, your high school boyfriend or girlfriend, or your spouse you have been with for years since college, we’ve all grown to have a general understanding of showing how we feel with shiny jewelry, heart-shaped chocolates and candies, or a dozen red roses on Valentine’s Day.

P.S. Valentine’s Day is also widely know as Singles Awareness Day. Did you guys really think I could forget about you I would never. Here’s a shoutout to all of my single homies out there. STOP BEING LOSERS AND WALLOWING IN YOUR SADNESS. GO GET SOME DATES.

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