Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

A big box of Russell Stover creams or caramels to my readers. And an armload of the yellow roses of Texas, the color meant for friendship, the color of the shining heart.

Valentine's Holiday Trivia: 
The St. Valentine, Patron of Love & Marriage, (as well as Epileptics and Bee-keepers) might be any or all of three different people. Like St. Christopher, the Patron of Travellers, he was bumped off the Saint List as possibly imaginary in 1969.  That was a bad year for the fun saints.

Lupercalia, the Roman holiday that Valentine's day supersedes, was a festival of Pan, the god of shepherds, drunkards, tricksters, and pastoral dalliance. He was a satellite of Dionysos. This festival in turn replaced Februa, of similar origin and behavior. So now you know where the month name for February comes from.

It became a holiday for love in the days of Chaucer. The Middle Ages were not really great for women, but the tradition of courtly love served to focus warriors on one ideal upper-class woman (they could not marry, not having land to support a family). That idealized woman got a little slack in the scheme of things, not to mention a whole lot of poetry whispered into her ears.

Valentine's Symbols
Doves. The symbol of love and peace, the messenger of God and also of troop movements.

Cupid--The son of Venus and Mercury. A god of love, although, in many renditions through art history, he sort of gives me the creeps. Those Rococo French were a bit of the sick. Like the dove, he is also a messenger, and has been modernized into the cute babies on many schoolchildren's penny valentines.

Roses came from Central Asia, 50 to 70 million years ago, and somehow managed to travel all across the Northern Hemisphere, where they developed into distinct regional species. For instance China roses are a different species from indigenous North American Rosa carolina.

China, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, France, England: roses have always been prized as tokens of love. Talk about timeless. Lovers get red, for the passionate heart, or, red-and-white streaked ones, which in the language of flowers means 'love, united'.

Chocolate comes from cacao beans, indigenous to Honduras first, then Mexico through South America. When it was first brought back to Europe, it was ground and served much like coffee. Very bitter, Europeans would spoon sugar and sometimes milk into it. Chocolate bars were not invented until the Industrial Revolution sometime in the 1700's, and that's when Dutch chocolate became famous.

So, enjoy this day. Its symbols come from myths, lies, misunderstandings, albino pigeons, thorny wildflowers and bitter fruit. But love has a transforming power, after all.


Christopher said...

"The Middle Ages were not really great for women." Replace any random time period for "the middle ages" and you'll be spot on. The present in North America excepted. :)

Happy Valentines Day to you as well.

Ann T. said...

Dear Christoper,
LOL! Very true. However, the scholars always try to make it sound like the tales of King Arthur was some huge favor to my gender--I love the tales, but I've got a big Hmmmm going for the rest.

Glad to be in N. America,
Ann T.

Bob G. said...

You're MUCH better than WIKI when it comes to facts and figures...
Love the post...plenty of substance (and trivia).

Middle Ages?
Love the castles - hate the pestilence.
Love the swords - hate the hoards.
Verily and forsooth...(yeah, right)

At least the armor fits...joust kidding, really...LOL.

Have yourself a Happy Valentine's Day!


Unknown said...

Happy Valentines Day Ann!!

And quite honestly a chubby baby with bow and arrow trying to shoot me really isnt my idea of romantic. Just sayin.

Ann T. said...

Verily and forsooth,
I dare hopeth that no babies with weapons showed up today,

and the only hordes that showed up had valentine and loving wishes.

Thanks for commenting!
Ann T.

The Observer said...

Ann T

I thought Joyce Clyde Hall (the founder of Hallmark Cards) invented Valentine's Day!

Hope you had a good one!

The Observer