Well, I’m all in favor of Romance, but here’s the drag about Valentine’s day - it’s too exclusive, and not in the cool way of some trendy Parisian boite, but in the cliquish way of high-schoolers, excluding all the lovely people out there who, bursting with love, just don’t have an outlet. It’s cruel. Inhumane. And it also trivializes love in general, all the myriad forms of love that the human soul envelopes.
Now, let it be known that Valentine’s Day has a very sketchy history. There are the apocryphal stories of a couple of Christian martyrs named Valentine, one of whom, against Roman law, took it upon himself to marry soldiers (because it would keep them chaste while sacrificing life and limb for the Empire?) Apparently February 14th was the day of this Valentine’s burial. (His skull is still entombed and floral wreathed, how romantic, in a basilica in Rome.)
Yet earlier still, say certain ancient pundits, lies the ancient Roman ritual Lupercalia, a pagan coupling rite celebrated on the 15th of February. According to these pundits, the festival was abolished in 492 by Pope Gelasius. Others say that the ritual merely got sterilized, (maybe that’s the wrong word to use?) transmogrified from an orgiastic enterprise (including flagellation of willing? women) into a sort of latter day dating game.
Most agree that Chaucer had a hand in popularizing the date, literarily launching it as a celebration for lovers and, from there, the trend blossomed. The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love is in his Parlement of Foules (1382.) (Not fools, but fowls:)
"For this was on St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
Wikipedia states that “This poem was written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of King Richard II of England to Anne of Bohemia. (A treaty providing for a marriage was signed on May 2, 1381 and readers have uncritically assumed that Chaucer was referring to February 14 as Valentine's Day.) However, mid-February is an unlikely time for birds to be mating in England.”
Again from Wikipedia “In Slovenia, close to Bohemia, Saint Valentine or Zdravko was one of the saints of spring, the saint of good health and the patron of beekeepers and pilgrims. An old proverb says that "Saint Valentine brings the keys of roots.” It has been celebrated as the day when the first work in the vineyards and in the fields commences.” Okay, well let’s see: spring, new life, planting fields >>> fertility… hmmmmm; we get back to that Lupercalia business.
At any rate, my beef with Valentine’s day, aside from the added fact that it’s so precious, is that it is too limiting. Not the fault, or is it? of millions of lovers who happily spend fortunes on overpriced chocolates, gew-gaws and dinners, but due rather to a general lack of imagination in the culture at large. So here is what I propose: a THREE DAY HOLIDAY with a day dedicated to each of the following:
1) Romantic Love
2) Carnal Love
3) Agape (or Love of the World)
I have said it before and I’ll say it again, what the world needs now is Love, sweet Love. Oh wait, someone else said that. But they meant something quite different. I literally mean that the world itself needs that love that we all have bottled up inside of us. That love for life, for our lovely planet, for all our fellow creatures and all the darling flora on it. For the delightfully changing heavens above, for all the marvelous fertility of the oceans below, for all the forces of nature that fuel and propel life.
Now we already know what the 14th will look like, and one could see it as a prelude to the 15th (reviving Lupercalia, sans whips unless asked for) which would be a sort of righteous culmination, cleansing, upheaving of all the saccharinity of the 14th. And then we’d have the 16th as a day of liberation, with all that foolishness gotten out of the way on the preceding two days. The 16th would be a day of jubilation and acts of unadulterated, unfettered kindness and affection.
But wait a second, shouldn’t that third day just extend for ALL the 363 days left in the year???
Let’s see if we can make that happen. It make take a few generations, but I for one, on the 16th, will be exceptionally, profoundly exhibitionist in my love for all and sundry. If you’re lucky, you’ll cross my path.