Valentine's Day: It Wasn't Always About Love
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Valentine's Day: It Wasn't Always About Love

I guess tragedy does make things more romantic. Or, just disturbing.

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Valentine's Day: It Wasn't Always About Love

Ah, Valentine's Day. A day for couples to appreciate one another and the love that they share. And a day that ostracizes single people to either sob uncontrollably, or demolish a box of chocolates because, " I didn't want a boyfriend anyway."

Was it always this way? Was it always the single folks having to watch the happy couples do their happy things?

No. By no means was it ANYTHING like it is now. If you retain nothing else from this article, at least remember this.

Valentine's Day is named after St. Valentine, two monks of Christianity with the same name at a time before it became popular, when it was considered a "pagan religion." And so, it was an era where Christians were regularly ostracized and outlawed, as a threat to the then mighty Roman empire. Valentine's Day is named after these two monks who were executed over their role in the diffusion and practice of Christianity, particularly as a bond in marriage. And can you guess the date of both of their executions? That's right, it's February 14th, the current day of love. So, I guess you could say they wore red, but for a much more disturbing reason.

This day became a Christian holiday to honor the sacrifice and message of these martyrs. No romance really, just fasting and praying. That is, until Pope Gelasius I muddled things up by combining St. Valentine's day with Lupercalia, an ancient pagan festival held in Rome. He meant this to expel the "pagan" rituals, which ironically were considered real religion in the Roman era. Anyway, the festival was more theatrical than it once was. Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin's Day, which meant "lover of women." So what was supposed to be a feminist holiday became something women cried on. Brilliant.

So it's not that simple of course; in the 1400's, the famous author Chauncer decreed the February feast of St. Valentinus ( I guess it had turned into a feast by then) to be the mating of birds day. In his day, apparently, birds paired off to produce eggs in February, which makes sense since spring is right around the corner (hopefully if the groundhog decided to make an appearance). The idea of birds mating became very popular, and began romantic traditions among nature-minded folk such as the French Duke of Orleans, who wrote to his wife saying he was "lovesick", calling her his "Valentine."

Then, of course, Shakespeare had to jump on the bandwagon and write about Ophelia in Hamlet, who was quite literally crazy in love, declaring herself to be Hamlet's Valentine. Penmanship sparked letters, and propelled by the Industrial Revolution, led to Cadbury, Hershey's, and other chocolate companies who made "sweets for people's sweethearts."

Traditions, no matter how deep they are entrenched, change over time. Because people change, societies change. We no longer persecute those who practice Christianity, no longer take days of penance and praying multiple times a year. But the market does profit tremendously off of people's insecurities, and Valentine's day is possibly the biggest example of a chocolate company's delight.

The next time you feel bad because you don't have a husband or wife, fiancee, boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a date for the night, just remember that that's probably not what St. Valentine wanted anyway. And because of COVID-19, you're probably doing everyone a favor by staying home:)

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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