Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine Schmalintine

Honestly, I hate Valentine's Day. And not because I'm currently single. Thanks to my many years spent in retail, I have come to think of it more as a 'Hallmark Holiday.' Florists; jewelers; crappy plush toy makers; candy companies; restaurants and greeting card companies are the only ones who really get anything out of it. And what they get is your hard-earned cash.

Historically (or rather, mythologically) Valentine was Christian priest during the reign of Roman Emperor Claudius II (not the one played by Derek Jacobi on the BBC) who married young Roman couples despite Claudius' decree that young men should remain unmarried so they were more likely to serve in the Roman army, or some such nonsense. Jailed for his treasonous behavior, Valentine fell in love with the jailer's blind daughter, whom he supposedly cured through prayer. The night before his scheduled execution (and subsequent martyrdom), Valentine wrote a letter to the girl, saying farewell and professing his love; signing it "From Your Valentine."

Now it just so happened that the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia was celebrated in mid-February. The festival, dedicated to Juno (the goddess of marriage), was usually when young Roman men lost their virginity to willing young ladies who wished to serve their goddess in this very capacity. But sometime around 496 A.D., Pope Galasius turned the pagan holiday (as the Church so often did with pagan holidays) of Lupercalia into the Holy Day of Valentine, and ever since, St. Valentine's Day has been a celebration of carnal love. Of course, it helped that usually not long after Valentine's Day, Lent starts and carnal desires are meant to pushed aside for 40 days of self-denial. In other words, screw away now, for blue balls are forthcoming. And "carnal" (of the flesh) is where we get the modern word "carnival," which has come to mean the week before Lent. "Mardis Gras," or Fat Tuesday, is a direct descendant of the carnival, a time spent in carnal excess. Which of course dates back to the Pagan rituals of eating the last of the previous fall's harvest in preparation for the spring, fattening up for the 40 days of self-deprivation to come (see how it all ties in, there?). I promise to save the Pagan origins of Easter for another time, but you can probably see where it's going...

Anyway - February 14th hasn't always been the most wonderful of days in history. Anne Boleyn was beheaded on 2/14/1537; Al Capone sanctioned the infamous "Valentine's Day Massacre" in 1929 and Roosevelt ordered the internment of Japanese Americans on 2/14/1942. Three years later, the bombing of Dresden commenced on 2/14/1945; Malcolm X's home was fire-bombed on 2/14/1965 and on 2/14/1989 the Ayatollah Khomeni announced the fatwah on Salman Rushdie for his novel "The Satanic Verses." Not exactly romantic occasions.

Of course, on February 14th, 1999, I was personally dumped during what I had planned to be a romantic dinner with someone with whom I thought I had a real connection, but who turned out to a superficial asshat. And no, I'm not bitter, I swear. I've had romances since then and I'm sure (or at least I hope) I'll have at least one more romance again. But damnit, I am sick and tired of this stupid "holiday" where single folks are left out in the cold while couples celebrate the death of a minor Catholic Saint with candy, flowers and folded cardboard sentiments that aren't their own...

Anyway - here's David Letterman's take on VD, from 2008:

Okay - another rant over. Tomorrow, watch for my review (finally) of The Wolfman, starring Benicio del Toro and Anthony Hopkins.

More, anon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

lets be honest though. throw a dart at the calendar and you'll find a whitmans sampler of atrocities commited on it by coincidence.