Valentine’s Day? I’d rather persecute some Christians.
Okay, so I’m not serious about the persecuting Christians myself, but apparently, historically this was quite a popular pastime that a lot of people partook of before everyone started to send each other love notes signed ‘hot cuddly bunny’ and ‘love kitten’. (neither of these pseudonyms are mine, by the way. Just don’t ask me why or how I won the name sweet pear half in your own juicy syrup).
Anyway, back to dear old St Valentine, and persecuting Christians. It all sort of kicked off in Rome, around the third century because Claudius II, in a rather mean spirited gesture, decided that men made better soldiers if they were single, so he outlawed marriage (hurrah!) for young men, which obviously must have upset an awful lot of young women, who either had to do without their conjugal rights, marry a wrinkly or become a lesbian. This banning of marriage also upset a priest called Valentine – or Valentinus, who took it upon himself to perform secret marriages for young lovers which pissed Claudius II off a bit, and found Valentine rather swiftly put to death.
I don’t think this made Claudius the most popular person at the party, although history does have it that Valentine didn’t exactly help himself because when he wasn’t marrying people in secret, he was also helping poor persecuted Christians to escape the harsh Roman prisons and thus avoid being beaten and tortured (two very acceptable forms of entertainment nowadays on Valentine’s Day, I believe, although I’ve not tried either. Obviously)
It was Valentine himself who was supposed to have sent the first ever Valentine’s card, although personally, I’m not sure they had Hallmark Cards and Gifts in third century Rome – but he was supposed to have fallen in love with a young girl who may have been his Jailor’s daughter who visited him whilst he was imprisoned awaiting his swift and untimely death. Well, it passes the time, I suppose.
The card was signed ‘From your Valentine’ and card and gift manufacturers and flower sellers everywhere have been abundantly grateful for this ever since. Postmen do take a slightly dim view of it, although nowadays they can’t get signed off work with a bad back because Royal Mail have got wise to that one and given them nifty little trollies to push.
I, however rather like the thought that Valentine’s Day was derived from an early Pagan celebration known as Lupercalia. It was basically a fertility festival when Roman priests gathered in a cave (the same cave incidentally, where Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome were reputedly cared for as infants by an over zealous she – wolf) – anyway, these priests would gather in the cave and then pop along the dirt track and kill a poor unsuspecting dog or goat, cut it’s hide into strips, dip the hide in the dead animals blood and then run around the streets of Rome slapping women with it. Imagine! There you are, a young woman, popping out to the local baths for your weekly wash when, suddenly POW! Some bloke leaps in front of you and slaps you full on with a blood soaked dead animal skin. Who says romance is dead?
Thanks to us stalwart Brits, romance and Valentine’s Day are still very much alive and kicking, and there isn’t a dead dog in sight. Every year, dewy eyed males spend approximately £595 MILLION on the object of their affections. In fact, one in three of us will be celebrating an ancient Roman priest getting killed this year. That’s obviously one couple, and that strange bloke from down the road wearing an animal hide.
If you’re a man, you’ll spend more on your partner than she will on you although you’re slightly luckier if you’re in a same sex relationship because they won’t be able to pull THAT argument on you when they stare at your card and a wilting bunch of roses you got from the garage on the way home. Typically men spend about £75 on their partners, who, if they are female, will only part with a miserly tenner in the reduced aisle at the local supermarket, and that’s only if she REALLY fancies you.
The Welsh and people in the South are the least likely to celebrate so if you’re a bloke and you’re married to a Welsh woman living in Basingstoke, you might as well write off Valentine’s Day altogether because the chances of you getting a blow job are basically as good as a dead Roman priests.
Being 25 – 34 means that you’re a fool, because you lot are caught up in the consumerist trap and spend on average £33 each, although if you’re Scottish, you’ll save eight quid because you’re mean and the Scots’ spend the least amount of money on their beloved on Valentines Day. Except for me, of course, because if you cast your mind back to the beginning of this blog, I’m WAY too busy to bother about buying you a Valentine’s present. All you need is Love? Give me a dead animal hide dripping in blood any day, thanks.
- NOTE – SERIOUSLY – DO NOT SEND ME DEAD ANIMAL HIDES, DRIPPING IN BLOOD OR OTHERWISE. I shan’t be pleased. On the other hand, I’m partial to freesia’s, silver (preferably in the form of jewelry and from Tiffany) convertible Mercedes, and holiday’s in the Maldives. Thank you.
© Amy J Steinberg 2018