Valentine’s day is about love, this is true. However, it is not about the kind where a last minute box of crappy chocolate lets whomever know that they are special to you. It isn’t about flowers or dinners or underpants, either. The real story of Valentine’s day and its significance, is way bloodier and much more serious than anything Hallmark would ever print in its pink and loopy cursive.
According to legend, Valentine was a priest under Claudius II. Like most Roman emperors, this Claudius was a huge dick and loved killing people. Somewhere around 250-ish AD in Roman history, war was raging and there was loads of fighting, killing, and raping going on, thus making the emperor happy. At some point, Claudius realized, men who were married weren’t so keen on leaving their nice, soft ladies to go to war. As opposed to the horny bachelors, who tended to want to fight, kill and rape a whole bunch, for any reason, whatsoever. This conclusion led to a no-brainer decree. Marriage became illegal, punishable by death.
Enter our doomed hero, Valentine. He was a Christian priest, already a double negative in those days, and was infuriated by the law. There was no way to change the situation, so he quietly rebelled and continued to marry people anyway.
The services were held at night, in secret locations. The vows and blessings had to be whispered so as not to attract any attention. Young couples, taking their lives into their own hands, only to declare their love for one another. Now THAT is fucking romantic, and it was still, like eighteen thousand years before Victoria’s Secret was invented.
We all know what’s coming… you can’t be a saint without something heinous happening to you, it’s just part of the deal.
Of course Valentine was caught, jailed and his execution was scheduled for February 14th. The significance of the date was a nice big fuck you from Claudius. Feb 14 was the very non-Christian-y feast of Lupercalia, a blood soaked Bacchanal that comes at the end of the “Month Of Marriage”. During Lupercalia, people sacrificed animals and burnt offerings to the God formerly known as Lupercus( later to be known as Pan, pending release from his record contract) Everyone would feast on sacrificed goat meat, then eligible virgins would smear the blood all over their hot, naked bodies then run screaming through the streets. Kind of like Burning Man, but with more rape…and no furry bicycles.
Good thing Valentine was going to be clubbed to a pulp then beheaded, so as not to see too much of that silliness.
As the legend goes, in the months leading up to his death, Valentine fell in love with the jailers son, who would bring food and water to the prisoners. Some say it was a young girl, because, well, we can’t have the patron saint of Hallmark and red G-string underpants be a big homo, now can we? Let’s be real for a moment, though, we’re talking about ancient Rome…. AND a priest … so …. plus, if you think about it, even in such a primitive age, what jailer would send his baby girl out to bring water and gruel to a bunch of war torn, rape-y convicts? Back then girls got sold to people. And who’s to say that it wasn’t just love between the boy and priest, adoring, pure sweet love, without sex? That is also a possibility. So don’t get all pissy about me suggesting Valentine might’ve been gay. Even though he might have been gay.
Anyway , when the day arrived and he was led out to be executed , he left a note for the boy expressing his affection and he signed it: “Love, your Valentine.” Ta-daa.
He was beheaded and his body was burned. Claudius did not fuck around with any niceties. He made damn sure that Valentine suffered mightily in public to send a strong message to any fool who may have a Valentinian thought of matrimonial rebellion .
Whew, THANK GOD we are, finally, an advanced society. One that finds it ignorant, nay, primitive, to stand in loves way. Which is why we no longer make laws to keep loving adults from joining in the bonds of marriage, right?
Umm …anyway .
Valentine’s Day, like many other holidays, has become an advertising orgy, geared to sell heaps of useless crap to us all. Now, after reading about the man for whom this day is named, don’t you feel like a dick for guilting your loved one into buying you a Pajamagram? I think it’s far more appropriate, in honor of St. Valentine, to make a brave stand. Stand up to what you think is wrong, love boldly and do your best to right wrongs and rally against social injustice. Egypt is a beautiful, modern metaphor for Valentine’s day. AND a bunch of the protesters returned to the scene to clean up after themselves. THAT’S love. I know dudes who have howled to the rafters that they love me, only to leave all kinds of mess for me to deal with, and not just the kind that wipes up with a tee shirt.
The people in your life whom you love the most, they ought to know it by now. If not, don’t wait for a day on the calendar to tell you it’s time to do so. The heart can’t read a calendar. It can’t read, period. The heart is like a dumb little kid, jumping up and down in your chest when you love somebody. If you’re lucky, it’s always jumping, for your friends, your family, your lovers, past, present and future, your pets, your God, life and yourself. And, despite some lingering ignorance on the topic, you can, for the most part, love your little heart out without having to fear for your life. May it always be that way.