February 14, 2013

Six years ago on AWV

This entry was originally posted on Friday, February 9, 2007.

   It's weekend assignment time again.

Weekend Assignment #151: Is Valentine's Day a genuinely romantic day? Or just a big commercial money pit into which romantic people fall? Go on, share how you really feel about the day -- whether you enjoy it, or feel like it's forced on you by greeting card companies, or fall somewhere in between those two poles.

Extra credit: Suggest a nice romantic movie.

   In order to address this weekend's assignment, I did some some research on St. Valentine, and Valentine's Day.

   I was amused.

   Traditionally called St. Valentine's Day, February 14th hasn't actually been the Catholic feast day of St. Valentine for almost thirty-eight years. Today, February 14th is the liturgical feast day only of St. Cyril and St. Methodius. Why is Valentine's Day no longer St. Valentine's Day? Well, it seems that the current opinion of the church is that the most popular figures referred to as being the origin of the holy day are 'legendary' saints. That means they did not, in actuality, ever really exist.
   In addition, it seems that the association of Valentine's Day with love and romance is almost entirely the work of Geoffrey Chaucer, in the fourteenth century. In his Parlement of Foules, he relates the tale (couched as if it were, indeed, an old tradition) that St. Valentine's Day was the day that birds met and chose their mates. There are no earlier references to St. Valentine's Day being connected with romantic love known. But why, you ask, would birds be mating in the middle of February, in Englande of Olde?
   Well, I don't know if you really asked that, or not, but two points to you if you did. Them's some pretty good critical thinking skills at work. It seems that Chaucer wrote that poem to commemorate the first anniversary of the engagement of Richard II to Anne of Bohemia, which event occurred on May 2, 1381. And May 2nd, as it happens, is the Catholic liturgical feast day of another saint named Valentine, of Genoa, from the early fourth century.
  So all those hearts and chocolates being thrown around every February 14th are, in fact, being received on completely the wrong day. Those who read Chaucer's poem at the time naturally assumed he was talking about the St. Valentine they were most familiar with. You know, the one who never really existed. Christians are funny that way.
   There you are gentlemen, from me to you: an excuse you can try out the next time you forget Valentine's Day. "But honey, I was saving your gift for the real St. Valentine's Day." I don't really expect that would work, and I certainly would never try to pull it off myself, but you, when you're desperate, you'll try anything. Just remember to get her something on May 2nd, or your ass is grass, man.

   So. Valentine's Day. Day of romance, or commercial blackmail? Well, both, really. I mean, when the tradition of St. Valentine's day was brought over to North America in the nineteenth century during the huge wave of British immigration that happened at that time, it took little or no time for it to catch on with enterprising merchants as a "let's make a quick buck at the expense of those poor schmucks being ruled by their testicles" opportunity. And, in fact, Hallmark Cards admits that they sell more product for Valentine's Day than any other holiday other than Christmas (you know, the liturgical feast day of another one of Catholicism's legendary figures). There is no question that the day has become little more than an occasion for retailers to hold a hammer over the heads of us poor, hormone controlled fellows. Buy flowers or sleep on the couch!

   Still, as they say...um...somewhere, "might as well roll with with it." Being that it is impossible to avoid, why not embrace it? You know your wife/girlfriend/illicit adulterous mistress is expecting something romantic. So go with it. Give it a little thought. Get her something that'll really set a sparkle in her eyes.
   Forget about the chocolate, the flowers, the stuffed bears holding little stuffed hearts. For the love of Woden, forget about the slutty little piece of barely there lingerie you had your eye on. Think about it, damn it! Because, you know, at the end of it all, that's all they really want: to know that you're thinking about them.
   Remember, life's what you make it.

Life's what you make it - Talk Talk

Baby, life's what you make it

Can't escape it

Baby, yesterday's favorite

Don't you hate it

Baby, life's what you make it

Don't backdate it

Baby, don't try to shake it

Beauty is naked

Baby, life's what you make it

Celebrate it

Anticipate it

Yesterday's faded

Nothing can change it

Baby, life's what you make it

Everything's all right

Extra Credit:  "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return." -- Moulin Rouge.

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