But I’ve always resented having romantic Valentine’s Day fall just after my birth date. The dates get smooshed together and somehow, neither event gets the celebration it deserves.
Over the two decades we’ve been married, my husband and I have reached some compromises that work for both of us. He takes me to a dinner of my choice for my birthday (because Valentine’s is dinner so crazy to get reservations). We don’t do a cake anymore for my birthday because I’m diabetic and will pay the price the next day. But he still wants a cake for his birthday, so I get to ask for a substitute gift (this year I requested earrings or new tennis shoes).
Later that week, he buys me roses, or, even better, a rose bush, for Valentines. Since we live in Arizona, we can actually plant a rose bush in February, and the live plant appeals to my Earth Goddess nature.
How did Valentine’s Day become a “romantic” holiday? Legends abound because the history of this special day is shrouded in mystery. But here are a few possible explanations –and a bit of Valentine’s Day lore.
Another legend contend that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century of Rome. Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldier than those with wives and families, so he outlawed marriage for young men, who made up his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the Emperor’s decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, Claudius had Valentine put to death on February 14, now Valentine’s Day.
Another Roman custom of Lupercalia was the festival of natural “heat”—the sexual readiness that permeated nature, especially the wolves, or “lupa”. To celebrate, willing young maidens wrote their names on slips of papyrus, put them in a box, shook them up, and let young men pull out the names of their valentines. These couples paired up for the duration of the festivities. The names were equally matched by both sexes so nobody had to go home alone after the drawings.
Eventually the tradition made its way to the New World. The Industrial Revolution ushered in factory-made cards in the 19th century.
Today, the holiday is big business: Valentine’s Day sales now top $18 billion.
Just remember: A romantic overture is not a command performance. You don’t have to break the bank buying jewelry, candy and flowers for your beloved. There are so many other ways to celebrate!
For example, I decided to make the holiday a learning opportunity, by attending “Valentine’s Day Chat with a Coroner.” I’ll spend the evening hearing stories of cannibalism, murder and other examples of love gone wrong.
Warms my little black Valentine’s heart.
Hope your day brings you everything you desire.