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Happy Valentine’s Day, old-style 14 February 2010

Posted by The Inimitable M in Culture, Society, Religion, Diplomacy.
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For those who didn’t know, St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the reign of Claudius II. Claudius (of I, Claudius fame, I believe…not to be confused with the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre’s iPad version of iClaudius) was a firm believer that young men fought better unmarried than married, because – in his mind – young men unmarried would not have worries about what would happen to their wives and families should they die, and Claudius was famous for thousands of deaths in war during his tenure. Thus, he banned marriage for young people.

The Roman church was politically opposed to such a ban and encouraged their priests to circumvent it, performing marriages despite the edict. Valentine was one of those priests, probably the most vocal and open about the church’s stance in the matter.

Father Valentine was eventually caught, imprisoned and tortured for the crime of performing religious marriages “undercover”. He was sentenced in 269 to endure a three-part execution: beating, stoning and decapitation.

No, February 14th was not the anniversary of his death or birth. There’s nothing special in Christian belief to identify that particular day with St. Valentine.

If anyone follows the anthropological and archaeological findings surrounding placements of churches throughout Europe and the strategic choices of days for both Easter and Christmas, they know that the logistics were established to counteract paganism.

This is also the case with Valentine’s Day. It was chosen to Christianise the pagan festival of Lupercalia, which was preceded by Februs. It was designated a time of preparing for spring by sweeping out the house and sprinkling salt and spelt to start the new year right. The festival also honoured Faunus, the god of agriculture, to celebrate the fertility of new crops.

So there you have it. Chocolates, hearts, lust and starry eyes have absolutely nothing to do with the reality of the day in either Christian or pagan ways, and quite frankly, cheapens it to a great extent.

If you must celebrate the day, celebrate it by honouring your own political beliefs, your stand for or against prevailing cultural and religious tenets (perhaps the sentiments and laws surrounding the same sex marriage issue?), and clean your house.

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