Ancient Rome: Lupercalia.
A purification rite. A festival of fertility. Nudity, dancing, running about the streets, drinking, feasting, sensuality. Sacrificed goats whose skins are worn and then used as floggers to bless and help find love and fertility. Lupa, the she-wolf – from the Latin for she-wolf – lupus – was slang for prostitute, or associated with brothels.
Somewhere in the middle: beheadings, massacres, martyrs
History isn’t quite clear, since there exist so many with the name Valentinus (from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful). Valentine, a Gnostic who conducted secret marriages for young Christian couples, since the young men were not allowed to wed on account that Rome believed they would be better soldiers if single. Beheaded on February 14th. Later made a Saint.
Modern America: Valentine’s Day.
10,000 trees are cut down annually in China to make holiday cards: 1 billion cards are sent for Valentine’s day. Plus don’t forget 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolates; 220 million roses; and who can even comprehend the rest of the gifts, the dinners, the wine bottles. Every year Americans spend $20 billion in hopes of finding love and fertility.
I’m not convinced that any of these times or places leave my heart feeling full and hopeful for the world. What does all this death have to do with love? Killing animals and wearing their skins? Killing people for trying to support lovers? Killing trees to create something that will find its way to a landfill or recycling plant in just days? And wait, what? We only get to celebrate love and romance once a year???
This she-wolf is hoping for some cuddles on February 14th, and on February 15th, and all the rest of the days to come for that matter. Good old organic, non-GMO, locally produced, fair trade, consensual, free, abundant cuddles. Love does not need a holiday.