The month of February is a tough one. Cold, ice – Oh how I hate ice! Seasonal Affect Disorder. Maybe that’s why there are so many Holidays in February. Ground Hogs Day, Imbolg, Saint Bridget’s Day, – these are the same as far as I’m concerned they all fall on the first or second of February, A two for one holiday. Setsubum, February 3 is traditional New Years Eve In Japan, plus the Oriental New Years Day, that’s a two for one too. Washington and Lincolns birthday and Presidents Day is a three for two holiday. Mardi Gras and Carnival: these holidays last between two and fourteen days. We will opt for 14 days. So far we are up to 21 holidays in the shortest month of the year. In ancient Rome alone there were 16 holidays in February. We should add Sadie Hawkins day for those pesky officials who add an extra day to February misery. Oh but wait we have forgotten a special holiday in February, Valentines day! February 14th. Nowadays they say this is associated with Romantic Love. Well maybe. Some Scholars think differently:
Valentine’s Day honors Saint Valentine. He was martyred for illegally marrying Roman soldiers. He is buried on the Via Flaminia. He probably had a roadside kiosk, just like the modern day drive through wedding chapels in Nevada. Maybe not. Supposedly he wore an Amethyst ring with an image of Cupid engraved upon it. This was the high sign to let soldiers marching along the road to fall out and get hitched. Amethyst is still February’s birthstone. Well Valentine got caught and while awaiting execution in prison he cured the prison wardens daughter, Julia of blindness. On the eve of his execution he wrote Julia a note and signed it: “Your Valentine”. Love is blind indeed! Julia later planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tree remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship. Valentine is also have said to given heart shaped badges to pagan soldiers he baptized.
To move away from the churchey stuff the first literary mention of Valentine’s Day comes from Chaucer:
“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”
In many parts of Europe Valentines Day is considered the first day of Spring, when birds mate and planting begins. Not where I live. The Groundhog is very clear about that! This may have something to do with the change from the Julian to Gregorian Calendars. Flowers particularly Roses are associated with Valentines Day. Edmund Spenser’s epic The Faerie Queene (1590):
She bath’d with roses red, and violets blue,
The modern Valentine’s Day poem can be found in the collection of English nursery rhymes Gammer Gurton’s Garland (1784):
The rose is red, the violet’s blue,
The honey’s sweet, and so are you.
Thou art my love and I am thine;
I drew thee to my Valentine
The lot was cast and then I drew,
And Fortune said it should be you.
A parenthetical note here. Where I come violets are purple. Some Scholars suggest that early Western European peoples had some sort of blue color blindness: “The wine dark sea” was always blue where I visited. We drew lots for Valentine selection when I was in Elementary school too. Well let’s see. What have I missed. Ah Chocolate! Well you never need to have an excuse to give or eat chocolate! My wife Susan went out for Sushi for lunch today. Oops yesterday! Well man does not live by blog alone. We do this traditionally. One Valentines Night we were eating Sushi and a young woman comes up to the Sushi Bar with a heart shaped chocolate box. She had it filled with Sushi For Take-out. Talk about Romance! Well here is my second Valentine for my wife Susan: