Every conceivable cliche’ of love known to civilization is at it’s maximum use potential today, as love and admiration become a tangible commodity. I could ramble on about the gross exploitation of emotion and contrived gestures of appreciation…but I won’t (your welcome) I will however share a bit of history on the day (with an irish connection as well) and my recipe for Valentines Day whether you have a sweetheart or not!
The traditions from pagan roots are often more so interesting and curious than the foreboding and purpose driven Christian rituals of celebration, and Valentines day is no
exception! The early Roman’s celebrated the Feast of Lupicalia held between February 13-15 possibly in honor of that mischievious god of debauchery, Pan and more likely the she- wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. With great revelry in their purpose of ridding evil and promoting good health and fertility, goats would be sacrificed and skinned, then the men took to the streets running naked and striking the outstretched hands of females with strips of the goat skin as they paraded by, insuring fertility and painless child birth (Not quite as easy as that, boys!) Some accounts say that on the eve of Lupicalia, the young men would draw names from the urn of available young maidens and they would be companions for the remainder of the year, ie: the archaic form of exchanging valentines.
….But then came christianity….. St .Valentine, the patron Saint of Love, young couples and marriage; was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius around 270AD., Claudius II. History tells of the anti-any-religion ClaudiusII looking to enlarge his army but meeting resistance from the men folk not wanting to leave their sweeties (and possibly multiple “sweeties” since polygamy was a popular co-habitation choice in ancient Rome) A law on the books allowing married men to not have to serve in the army, Claudius II decided to overcome this obstacle and outlaw marriage. Legend tells that Valentine despite being a man of the cloth was a romantic at heart (not to mention the Christian effort of wiping out pagan practices such as polygamy) continued to perform marriage ceremonies in secret. One night after uniting a young couple in matrimony, Claudius’ soldiers arrested Valentine and drug him to prison where he was sentenced to be beat, stoned, and then decapitated for his defiant stand. While awaiting his fate, Valentine would be visited often by the blind daughter of the Roman Senator Austerius for prayer in healing of her sight but also of her sympathetic heart towards Valentine’s cause to keep true love alive. On the morning of his execution he left his friend a small note of agape admiration and thanks, it simply read…..from your Valentine……the moral of this story might be: love does exists but not without a bit of sacrafice (oh how true!)
In Dublin Ireland, Whitefriars Street Roman Catholic Church claims to be the home of St. Valentine’s remains. Here couples make the pilgrimage to show their appreciation to the patron Saint of love, and on this sacred day of love St. Valentines remains are brought to the altar for high mass.
Despite it’s origins or it transmutaion, Valentines day is a day with important base values that honestly should be expressed everyday of the year – unconditional love, mutual respect, empathy and understanding, and a sincere interest and admiration of those who are special to our lives. But if all that is too deep for you remember our mommas alway tell us a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach and what better way than with an a bit of Italian served up in the form of homemade pizza! And even if you don’t have a sweetheart, think of the delicious leftovers you get all for your own.