Love Is In The Air by Susan Lute

In two days it will be Valentine’s Day. Before I go out to buy chocolate for the Mr., I thought it would be fun to go on a road trip. It’s nippy out there, so bundle up and bring your coffee.

Our first stop is History.com and the Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February. While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

How would you like to be one of those gals. Can you imagine being slapped with a blood soaked strip of goat’s hide and NOT getting pregnant that year? Next stop Wikipedia.

Valentine’s Day is a holiday observed on February 14 honoring one or more early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine. It is traditionally a day on which lovers express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). The day first became associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. It was first established by Pope Gelasius in 496 AD, and was later deleted from the General Roman Calendar of saints in 1969 by Pope Paul VI.

Of course then we have to take the gravel road to courtly love, a medieval European conception of nobly and chivalrously expressing love and admiration. Generally, courtly love was secret and between members of the nobility. It was also generally not practiced between husband and wife. Interesting! Courtly love began in the ducal and princely courts of Aquitaine, Provence, Champagne and ducal Burgundy, at the end of the eleventh century. In essence, courtly love was an experience between erotic desire and spiritual attainment that now seems contradictory. The term “courtly love” was first popularized by Gaston Paris in 1883, and has since come under a wide variety of definitions and uses, even being dismissed as nineteenth-century romantic fiction.

This is where romance writers come in. We are romancers, writers of romantic fiction. We romance our readers with stories about love, courtly or not, with happy-ever-after endings. So I’d like to wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day from the Janes at See Jane Publish. What traditions do you have for celebrating this very special day?

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About Susan

Author, wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend, dreamer.

Posted on February 12, 2012, in General and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Happy Valentine’s to you too, Viola. Love to see you stop by 🙂

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  2. Loved the blog and history lesson. It was fun and very informative. Happy Valentines Day Susan!

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  3. Happy Valentine’s Day, Terri.

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  4. Great post, Susan. And great comment, Maggie.
    Thank you both.
    Happy Valentines day!!!

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  5. Maggie, what wonderful traditions! I celebrate my b-day that way. It takes two weeks for me to turn another year older, lol.

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  6. Susan, I also love posts like this that explain traditions. I must admit I had not heard of the fun of being slapped with a bloody goats hide. Ah…what we miss in modern society. Not!

    The Mr. and I long ago decided that going out on Valentine’s Day was not fun–too crowded, too expensive, and too crazy with way too high of expectations for the day. Instead, we give each other little gifts each day of the week beginning on Sunday and extending through Saturday (no matter which day V.D. is). It’s kind of worked into a tradition with each day having a special type of “treat” associated with it. In honor of Sunday, forgiveness and doing something we wouldn’t normally do, today we exchanged promissory notes–each promise to do some chore one really wants but the other hates to do. The chore must be completed during the week. The second day is traditionally some food item and always a surprise. As we are both on careful diets, I doubt it will be chocolate. I have a fruit, yogurt and granola concoction I’m planning for breakfast. I suspect DH will do his for dinner as he usually prepares that meal. Day three involves an outing of some kind (hike, movie, Starbucks, depending on the mood). Day four is a clothing gift–usually an accessory of some type. Day five is a flower for each year of our being together. That can be lots of flowers between the two of us. Day six is a homemade card or handwritten letter. (We always leave this to day six because we usually forget and don’t start it until the first day). Day seven is always potpourri. We leave one day unplanned for serendipity. By day 7 V.D. is usually over for everyone else, so we really have the town and whatever fun we want without having to compete with all the other one day lovers. 🙂 It is a fun tradition, and stretches out the celebration instead of concentrating all our energy (and subsequent angst) on one day.

    Happy Valentine’s to you and all who read your wonderful blog.

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  7. Hi Sarah! The Mr. and I try to keep the chocolate to a minimum – not that I don’t love it, but I’m addicted, lol. If I get started, it’s days before I stop. He loves M&M’s though, so I always look for something fun that way. This year I found a small heart – not too small – loaded with the little buggers. I think he’ll love it.

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  8. I love posts like this that explain where traditions come from! Happy Valentine’s Day back! My husband and I do different things each year – no traditions.

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