The Obscured Origins of Valentine’s Day *Updated 2016

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– Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love, stupidity and consumerism. However, the origins of this weird candy-heart festival with flying naked baby-archers and overpriced plants wrapped in ribbon are actually pretty dark and bloody.

– HEART SHAPED symbols. –
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According to some, the shape of the heart represents an Ivy Leaf, the symbol of Bacchus, the male deity of wine and love.
While the romantic symbolism of the valentine hearts are debated — others believe they represent the female sex organs or buttocks, Cupid’s bow, etc. — a more likely meaning may be considered. Animal hearts from the Lupercalia sacrifices of goats and dogs were likely extracted and given to the chosen women as both trophies and amulets. The memory of these sacrificial organs live on.

Children born around Samhain (which became All Saints Eve or Halloween) nine months later were considered especially blessed due to these unions.

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He corresponds to Nimrod and Tammuz, and also the archer, Saggitarius or “Cupid”. Another name for him is Orion, the hunter. The arrow penetrating the “heart” symbol represented mating.
image Bacchus is seen in art wearing a wreath of ivy leaves on his head during his mating rituals. So, even the familiar “heart” symbol comes from Pagan Rome, and echoes their idolatry, as the symbol of Bacchus. Rome is established on seven “hills”, and each was originally named by the Etruscans.
There were settlements on six of these, but the seventh hill was a boggy, swampy place, where the soil was loose. image The Etruscans buried their dead there for centuries. Because the graves were shallow, dogs would often go there to dig up and feed on the dead bodies. The Etruscans named this hill VATICANUS, meaning habitation of dogs.
image Later, the Roman ruler Caligula drained this site, and held enormously popular “carnivals” (Latin for flesh).
image Caligula was a devotee of Bacchus, and held drunken orgies on a regular basis. The obelisk of Caligula still stands today in the center of the chariot wheel design in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral.image

Once the proper sexual pairings were determined, the naked fur covered couple would engage in sex in the fields or other places. A known related practice would support the likelihood that orgies also occurred during these celebrations and that the temple prostitutes granted their services freely during the festival so that sex was available to and expected of everyone. Ensuring a strong and consistently growing population for the community was everyone’s concern and was regarded as a social necessity.

– Those Wild And Crazy Romans
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed goats, then dipped strips of the animals hide in the blood and hit the women with it.

The Roman romantics “were drunk and naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
Because that makes total sense..
The brutal festival included a matchmaking lottery. So women had no choice in the matter, none of the young men were left out, they drew the names of women from a pot or vase.
They were then coupled up for the duration of the festival, or longer if they hit it off, sometimes even marriage.
Once the proper sexual pairings were determined, the naked fur covered couple would engage in sex in the fields or other places. A known related practice would support the likelihood that orgies also occurred during these celebrations and that the temple prostitutes granted their services freely during the festival so that sex was available to and expected of everyone. Ensuring a strong and consistently growing population for the community was everyone’s concern and was regarded as a social necessity.

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(The answer is in the next part)

– The ancient Romans are also responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men, both named Valentine and both on Feb. 14, but in different years of the 3rd century A.D. One for conducting illegal marriages in secret.

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– Another martyr named Valentine, according to a fifth- or sixth-century story known as the Passion of Marius and Martha, was a priest imprisoned and executed around 270. In the story he converts his prison guard after curing the guard’s daughter of blindness, so Claudius has him beaten with clubs and then chops off his head.

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Still, none of this explains why we spend billions (yes, Billions) on cards, candy, and 10 cent teddy bears from a factory somewhere.. that’s later..

– Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. Pope Gelasius I did away with rituals like Lupercalia in the 5th century and officially called it St. Valentine’s Day, but the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been.
Lenski adds,

“It was still a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”

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Shakespeare in love
image William Shakespeare helped romanticize Valentine’s Day in his work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.

– As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Handmade paper cards became the tokens-du-jour in the Middle Ages.

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– A fourteenth-century English poet named Geoffrey Chaucer—best known for the Canterbury Tales—is another theory, inventing the idea in his poem ‘The Parliament of Fowls’.
– The poem is an exploration of politics, cosmology, and erotic love. It ends with nature, encouraging the birds to choose appropriate mates for themselves on Saint Valentine’s Day.
In 18th-century England, it evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). In Europe, Saint Valentine’s Keys are given to lovers “as a romantic symbol and an invitation to unlock the giver’s heart”, as well as to children, in order to ward off epilepsy (called Saint Valentine’s Malady).

– Eventually, the tradition made its way to the New World. The industrial revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century. And in 1913, Hallmark Cards started spitting out mass-produced valentines and seized the opportunity. With that, February has never been the same and Valentine’s Day, like most holidays now, became a huge business. It’s even a sexist holiday in these times of equality, shaming men into spending as much money as possible, not because they’re romantic, but because it’s February 14th so they have to.. or else..

image – Today, the holiday is big business: According to market research firm IBIS World, Valentine’s Day sales reached $17.6 billion last year; this year’s sales are expected to total $18.6 billion.
But that commercialization has spoiled the day for many.
Helen Fisher, a sociologist at Rutgers University, says we have only ourselves to blame.

“This isn’t a command performance,” she says. “If people didn’t want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business.”

The earliest surviving valentine is a 15th-century rondeau written by Charles, Duke of Orléans to his wife, which commences.

Je suis desja d’amour tanné
Ma tres doulce Valentinée…

— Charles d’Orléans, Rondeau VI, lines 1–2

At the time, the duke was being held in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt, 1415.

The earliest surviving valentines in English appear to be those in the Paston Letters, written in 1477 by Margery Brewes to her future husband John Paston “my right well-beloved Valentine”.

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John Donne used the legend of the marriage of the birds as the starting point for his epithalamion celebrating the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of James I of England, and Frederick V, Elector Palatine, on Valentine’s Day: image

Hayle Bishop Valentine whose day this is

All the Ayre is thy Diocese
And all the chirping Queristers
And other birds ar thy parishioners
Thou marryest every yeare
The Lyrick Lark, and the graue whispering Doue,
The Sparrow that neglects his life for loue,
The houshold bird with the redd stomacher
Thou makst the Blackbird speede as soone,
As doth the Goldfinch, or the Halcyon
The Husband Cock lookes out and soone is spedd
And meets his wife, which brings her feather-bed.
This day more cheerfully than ever shine
This day which might inflame thy selfe old Valentine.

— John Donne, Epithalamion Vpon
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Frederick Count Palatine and the Lady Elizabeth marryed on St. Valentines day
The verse Roses are red echoes conventions traceable as far back as Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene

She bath’d with roses red, and violets blew,
And all the sweetest flowres, that in the forrest grew.

The modern cliché Valentine’s Day poem can be found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):

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The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou’d be you.

In 1797, a British publisher issued The Gentleman’s Valentine Writer, which contained scores of suggested sentimental verses for the young lover unable to compose his own. image Printers had already begun producing a limited number of cards with verses and sketches, called “mechanical valentines,” and a reduction in postal rates in the next century ushered in the less personal but easier practice of mailing Valentines.

That, in turn, made it possible for the first time to exchange cards anonymously, which is taken as the reason for the sudden appearance of racy verse in an era otherwise prudishly Victorian.

Paper Valentines became so popular in England in the early 19th century that they were assembled in factories. Fancy Valentines were made with real lace and ribbons, with paper lace introduced in the mid-19th century.  In 1835, 60,000 Valentine cards were sent by post in Britain, despite postage being expensive. The Laura Seddon Greeting Card Collection at Manchester Metropolitan University gathers 450 Valentine’s Day cards dating from the early nineteenth century, printed by the major publishers of the day. The collection is cataloged in Laura Seddon’s book Victorian Valentines (1996).

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There you have it, now you know:

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Thanks for reading.

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**********
Some dark Valentines:

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