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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Valentine (or Lupercalia) Thoughts

Happy Valentine’s Day . . . I guess. From where or what did it originate? We’re not sure, so take your pick.

Some postulate the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, conducted annually on February 15. This included bloody knives, milk, wool, laughing priests, and strips of hides from sacrificed goats and dogs. These shenanigans supposedly led to fertility in available women.

The church also got into the act by commemorating the life of a saint . . . but which of the several Valentines is of dispute. Some claim the feast day was placed in mid-February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia.

Written Valentines didn’t begin to appear until after 1400, the oldest known valentine still in existence today being a poem written to his wife in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. That has evolved into Americans now spending in the neighborhood of $20 billion (you read that right: billion!) annually on this hallmark of a day.

The underlying contemporary concept is love. Which is a good thing. Now . . . if only more people would put their money where their mouth is. Or rather, put their actions where their money (twenty billion dollars) is.

The world is awash in war. Wars in bedrooms and living rooms. Wars between different religions or ethnicities or racial groups. Wars between drug cartels and neighborhood gangs. Wars between nations. The love and good will of St. Valentine and the Lupercalia priests are all too often buried under the detritus of discordant self-interest.

The modern foundational images of Valentine’s Day are good and worthy and needed. Would that more people incorporate such all year in thought, word, and deed.

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