2.14.2007

So, what exactly IS Valentine's Day...

Although I generally try to be nice about it, I have always had trouble "celebrating" Valentine's Day. First, being Jewish, I have an issue with celebrating the martyrdom of a Catholic saint. Yes, I know, the holiday has become quite secular and is now a mere opportunity to let someone you care about know that you care about them. Well, that brings me to my second issue: I don't think I need a calender to read February 14th to let a woman I care about know that I care about her.

I think it's much more romantic to let her know that for no reason at all.

But all these candy hearts and Valentine's Day gift ideas got me thinking about who the heck St. Valentine was. Well, here's some of the stuff I found:

From Wikipedia:

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the saint whose feast was celebrated on the day now known as St. Valentine's day was possibly one of three martyred men named Valentinus who lived in the late third century, during the reign of Emperor Claudius II (died 270):

  • a priest in Rome
  • a bishop of Interamna (modern Terni)
  • a martyr in the Roman province of Africa
The very brief vita of St Valentine has him refusing to deny Christ before the "Emperor Claudius" in the year 280. Before his head was cut off, this Valentine restored sight and hearing to the daughter of his jailer.
A panty-dropping story if I've ever read one... Anyway, a more romantic version from The History Channel:
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men -- his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.

According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl -- who may have been his jailor's daughter -- who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Basically, nobody actually knows...apparently Catholic holidays don't emphasize the symbolic underpinnings of the holiday.

Well, I know that this holiday has taken on a life of its own. So, selling out my kvetching session for the lovely ladies who occasionally visit this blog, I keep a tradition alive and offer you the following poem by e.e. cummings, especially to the wonderful woman who introduced me to this poem:
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it's you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)
Happy Valentine's day!

4 comments:

Nabeel said...

hmm interesting facts about the valentines day .. awesome

Aww @ you are my world line :)

kapgar said...

Very cool stories you've collected. And I'm pretty sure I've seen that poem before. Or some variation thereof. It's a great poem.

Happy V Day to you, BA.

psycho-therapist said...

i think i was a neurotic, trichotomaniac (love the maniac part) insomniac jewish man in a former life. this is one of my favorite poems ever. fun blog!

Blundering American said...

PT - Glad you enjoyed! Thanks for dropping by!