Sunday, February 14, 2010
Taint Valentine's Day
Today is Valentine's Day, the day on which we celebrate love, romance, depression, guilt and regret.
The holiday is named after Christian priest, St. Valentine, who was martyred on 14 February, 269 years after Christ was crucified in Rome--the place where the word "romance" originates, ironically...
The tradition of exchanging love notes on Valentine's Day originates from Valentine himself. I don't know who started the whole buying flowers, chocolates, jewelry, teddy bears and dinner. But if Valentine started that, then I can understand why he had to be made an example of.
Anyway, due to a shortage of enlistments, Emperor Claudius II forbade single men to get married in an effort to get more recruits in the army. Most of the other Roman priests gaily went along with this plan of keeping the boys separate from girls. And of course, being ancient Rome, the army had a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Everyone Already Knows" policy.
Seeing this act as mean and unholy, Valentine performed secret wedding rituals in defiance of the emperor.
He was discovered, imprisoned, and sentenced to death by decapitation. While he was losing his head in jail, Valentine fell in love with the daughter of a prison guard, who would come and visit him. I don't know why a prison guard would let his daughter visit a hardened criminal, but anyway...
On the day of his death, Valentine left a note for the young woman professing his undying devotion signed "Love from your Valentine." I guess it isn't hard to tell a woman you'll love her for the rest of your life if you're about to head off to the afterlife. But the Romans were not finished with the dead romantic. Like Christmas and Easter, they then stole the holiday legacy from him, and gave it to a naked winged boy named Cupid, who shot arrows into your heart. Since then love forever became synonymous with pain.