Love, Cupid, and Valentine
How did Valentine's Day start? According to history scholars, Valentine is named after a person with that name. However, two people may have originated the idea of Valentines. First, there was a priest in 200 A.D. in Rome. He disobeyed Emperor Claudius II's ban on marriage for young soldiers as it would distract them, so he married them secretly. He was caught and sentenced to death.
Another person named Valentine was killed for trying to help Christians escape Rome's prison, and he may have sent the first Valentine's message while in prison. He wrote a letter and signed it "From your Valentine."
Valentine's Day commemorates St. Valentine's death on February 14. But, some historians say it began in a Pagan fertility festival called "Lupercalia." Ancient Romans celebrated the Lupercalia on February 15. It was to honor Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, and the two founders, Romulus and Remus, of Rome. The people would sacrifice animals and smack women with hides to encourage fertility. (The reasoning behind that behavior, I have yet to learn.)
About 499 A.D., Roman Pope Gelasius made February 14 St. Valentine's Day. But only in the Middle Ages did the holiday mean love and romance. This idea started in France and England. They believed birds began their mating season on February 14.
How does Cupid fit into all of this? He began in 700 B.C. as Eros, a handsome Greek god with the power to make people fall in love. In the 4th century BCE, the Romans made Eros into an image of a cute little boy with a bow and arrow. In the 1800's Cupid was linked with Valentine's Day.
The first Valentine was written by a French duke, Charles, to his wife in 1415 while imprisoned in the Tower Of London.
In the 1840s, the cards were mass-produced in the U.S. They were sold by Esther A. Howland. She made elaborate, crafty cards with lace and ribbons. She is known as the "Mother of the American Valentine."
Ladies, if you live in North Carolina, you could consult the Love vine. "First, you name the boy that you like. Then you take one of the long orange tendrils off the plant and try to tie it in a knot, which is most difficult. If you can tie a knot in the vine without breaking it, the boy you named loves you." According to Effie Price.
The love vine is also known as Dodder, Strangle-weed, Devil's Hair, and Hell-bind. It has long, orange, thread-like stems that spread quickly over host plants, sucking their life.
In 1832, The Old Farmer's Almanack published this poem by Mr. Tag, who was in love with a young lady named Miss Pickle. He wrote her this love ditty.
My heart to rags with love is torn and scratch'd with doubts hard to be borne.
My soul is harrow'd up with grief till naught, but Pickle gives relief.
Not pickled onions, 'tis I mean;
Nor pickled cabbage, red or green;
Nor pickled cucumbers, small or big;
Nor pickled port, nor pickled pig;
Not pickles brought from a foreign shore,
Nor any pickle known before!
A pickle, ad infinitum bright, 'tis brightest day 'midst darkest night!
A pickle 'tis of virgin fame, and Bridget Pickle is its name.
Oh! the kind Cupid, be not fickle; inspire the heart of sweet Miss Pickle
To reap love's harvest with thy sickle; Oh! Pickle! Pickle! Pickle! Pickle!
After such a romantic poem, I wonder if Bridget Pickle responded.
Candy Hearts! Oh, so good.
The following is part of a poem written by Ida M. Brookshire.
At the little country schoolhouse,
You were standing next to me,
In a long line-up of pupils,
For an old-time spelling bee.
I took your closed hand shyly,
And laid upon your open palm
A small white candy heart
With this question in red letters,
"Will you be my valentine?"
I read the smiling answer
In the eyes you raised to mine.
If you do not have a valentine, you can still celebrate. In 2003, The day was established on February 14 as International Quirkyalone Day. So it is okay to be single and have platonic relationships. So, on February 14, I shall be celebrating International Quirkyalone Day. Let me know if any of you are going to do the same.