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My Thoughts on Valentine’s Day

Hearts (Explored!)

I don’t really have a strong opinion about Valentine’s Day, either one way or the other.

I do sort of agree on the one hand that it seems a little pointless, as if you are truly in love with someone then you don’t need a set day to make a declaration of that love.

But then again the tradition is kind of nice, and it’s harmless enough, so I can’t really begrudge anyone who decides to celebrate it.

Maybe it’s because I’m a historian, but I find the history behind it much more fascinating. Like many other holidays, if you go right back, before the day was re-appropriated to be the day of Saint Valentine, this period in February was already being celebrated by the Romans in a festival called Lupercalia. Look it up on Wikipedia. Like all of the best bits of History it is replete with gory details. Here’s the best:

“The festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci [a particular sect of priests in ancient Rome] (or the flamen dialis) of two male goats and a dog. Next two young patrician Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupercalia)

Ever since I found that out, whenever people mention Valentine’s Day I always immediately associate it with blood sacrifice. I find there is a certain amount of dark humour to be found in this, given that it is a celebration of love. I’m sure such sacrificial overtones will be appreciated by anybody who has ever experienced love go bad. After the blood has been wiped on your face, what else can you do but laugh?

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