Tradition is a funny thing. It can take a desperate chant created in the depths of the worst plague in human history and turn it into a harmless rhyme sung to children to help them at naptime at daycare. Ring around the Rosie. A pocket full of posies. Ashes, ashes, we all fall down. How our modern Valentine’s Day came about is very similar.
To find the origin we’d have to go back to the Romans. They had this god named Februus and to celebrate him a festival was held on the 13th to the 15th of the month named after him. Originally this was a festival of ritual purification, and originally this meant washing away your evils with water. This became dancing around naked and drunk in the rain, and after a while that became the feast of Lupercalia. During this feast the Roman idea of being romantic was sacrificing wolves, dogs, and goats, stripping the hide off of them, and then beating their women with the bloody strips. I can make a guess why the official color of the holiday is red.
At the beginning of this three day orgy and drunkfest there was a lottery where men drew women’s names from a jar. Then that woman belonged to that man for the rest of the feast, longer if it was a good match.
In the 3rd Century Emperor Claudius II executed a physician priest named Valentine during one of these festivals. And no one know if he just really didn’t like the name or if it was just one big coincidence but a second priest named Valentine was killed a few years later. Neither of these dead men had any real impact on the feast of Lupercalia, that is until two hundred years later when Pope Galasius I decided to simply cover this drunken pagan festival with a Holy Roman holiday. He is the one who declared February 14th would be St. Valentine’s Day. Who knows which of the men were canonized. I hope the first one.
When it became a Christian holiday the nudity and drunkenness mostly stopped (at least in public, right?) This celebration of debauchery and fertility, this festival of ritual purification, turned into a celebration of love. Today it’s a Hallmark holiday that compels me to buy flowers and a card for my wife? I don’t really need a day to tell me to celebrate my relationship with my significant other, but hell, when in Rome, or when celebrating Roman tradition, whatever.
So to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day here is some horrible poetry written about heart break by K-Stew, or Bella from the Twilight movies.
My Heart Is A Wiffle Ball/Freedom Pole
I reared digital moonlight
You read its clock, scrawled neon across that black
Kismetly … ubiquitously crest fallen
Thrown down to strafe your foothills
…I’ll suck the bones pretty.
Your nature perforated the abrasive organ pumps
Spray painted everything known to man,
Stream rushed through and all out into
Something Whilst the crackling stare down sun snuck
Through our windows boarded up
He hit your flint face and it sparked.
And I bellowed and you parked
We reached Marfa.
One honest day up on this freedom pole
Devils not done digging
He’s speaking in tongues all along the pan handle
And this pining erosion is getting dust in
And I’m drunk on your morsels
And so I look down the line
Your every twitch hand drum salute