Sunday, February 12, 2012

Be My Valentine

Gentlemen, don’t be this guy:

She: “It’s Valentine’s Day. You forgot.”

He: (stammering) “ Well, I can explain. I did a little research on
the holiday and this is what I found.

“Valentine’s Day honors a couple of Christian martyrs named, what
else, Valentine. One was put to death for attempting to convert a
Roman emperor to Christianity.

“The other was a priest who refused a law attributed to Roman Emperor
Claudius II, allegedly ordering that young men remain single. The
Emperor supposedly did this to grow his army, believing that married
men did not make for good soldiers. The priest, however, secretly
performed marriage ceremonies for young men. When Claudius found out
about this, he had Valentine arrested and jailed.

“He fell in love with the jailer’s daughter and on the day of his
execution, Feb.14, sent her a love letter signed, ‘Your Valentine.’

“Nice stories, both. But they are legends with little or no
historical evidence to support them. The celebration most likely was
an attempt by the Catholic Church to Christianize a Roman fertility
festival held in mid-February.

“In fact, the Catholic Church deleted Valentine’s Day as an official
feast day in 1969 apparently believing that neither of these
gentlemen had anything to do with love and courtship.

“So I didn’t forget. I just decided not to celebrate a holiday that
has no basis in fact.”

She: Icy stare. Silent treatment for at least a week, maybe longer.

And so our protagonist learns the hard way that it’s easier to buy
candy or dinner or flowers than to apply steely eyed logic to affairs
of the heart.

The fact is, we’ve been celebrating Valentine’s Day for a very long

Doing a bit of research from such diverse Internet sites as CNN, the
Census Bureau, the History Channel and Wikipedia we discover the

The first recorded association of Valentine's Day with romantic love
is in “Parlement of Foules” (1382) by Geoffrey Chaucer. Chaucer
wrote: "For this was Saint Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh
there to choose his mate."

It seems odd that birds would be mating in February but let’s allow
old Geoffrey a little literary license.

Doing it as only the French can do, a “High Court of Love” was
established in Paris on Valentine's Day in 1400. The court dealt with
love contracts, betrayals, and violence against women. Judges were
selected by women on the basis of a poetry reading.

Also in the Middle Ages, legend has it that young men and women drew
names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would
wear these names on their sleeves for one week. Now, to wear your
heart on your sleeve means being transparent with your affections.

Today, Valentine’s Day continues to be a big deal. According to the
Greeting Card Association, an estimated 1 billion Valentine’s Day
cards are sent each year, making Valentine's Day the second largest
card-sending holiday of the year. (An estimated 2.6 billion cards are
sent for Christmas.)

Not surprisingly, women buy 85 per cent of all Valentines. On the
other hand, men spend almost twice as much on Valentine’s Day as
women do.

Candy sales account for $448 million the week before Feb. 14 and $8.6
million is spent on sparkling wine.

Other Valentine facts:

More than one-third of men would prefer not receiving a gift. Less
than 20 percent of women feel the same way.

Fifteen per cent of U.S. women send themselves flowers on Valentine’s

More than 9 million pet owners will buy gifts for their pets.
More at-home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other

Finally, the most used (and abused) poem in recent history began life
as a bit of Valentine’s Day doggerel first noted in a 1784 collection
of English nursery rhymes:

The rose is red, the violet's blue,
The honey's sweet, and so are you.
Thou are my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine:
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it shou'd be you.

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