Valentine’s day is one of the most confused and convoluted holidays ever, beginning with the fact that it isn’t really a holiday at all. Even the origins of this non holiday are in great dispute. There have certainly been a number of Christian martyrs named Valentine, none of them really having anything to do with love and romance, although myths and legends have sprung up, rumors of secret weddings performed. Greeting card companies and the History channel love these tales, but they really have little basis in truth.
There are some legends that suggest Valentine’s Day is somehow related to Lupercalia, the wolf festival, partially a celebration of Lupa, the she-wolf who cared for Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Again there is little evidence to suggest any relationship between Lupercalia and Valentine’s day at all, but rumors persist just the same.
Geoffrey Chaucer is really the guy we can blame for the modern folk practice of Valentine’s Day. He wrote his Parlement of Foules and the rest is history. It’s a tribute he wrote to King Richard ll on his marriage to Anne of Bohemia. Chaucer appears to have taken some literary license because he spoke of established traditions that did not even exist… until he spoke of them.
I of course, appreciate the odd juxtapositions within Valentine’s day, the darker things, the things that make me go, good grief people are weird. The St. Valentine’s day Massacre, or the fact that epilepsy was once called “the Valentine affliction.” In England a rather pervy old man named Jack was thought to leave candy for children on the back step in honor of Valentine’s day. Apparently a relic, the flower-crowned skull of Saint Valentine is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome. And King Richard’s Anne of Bohemia? She died a few years later of the plague.
Ironically, what is exceedingly difficult to find is any documented relationship between Valentine’s Day and something positive, like love, romance, or chocolate. Of course, those in the Valentine business would disagree with me entirely, as Valentine’s day has grown into a worldwide business. According to statistics, the Chinese and South Koreans now spend the most money, upwards of 500 dollars, contrasted to American’s paltry 113.