Nothing says "I love you" like being touched with goat hide strips

This morning as I was herding the children out of the house and into the car, The Boy asked me if today was Valentine’s Day. I had just handed him his Disney Cars Valentines that he had painstakingly signed for his friends at daycare, so that was his first clue. I told him that yes today is Valentine’s Day. Then he asked me why. I told him today was February 14th, and Valentine’s Day is always on February 14th. He then asked me how I knew it was Valentine’s Day, to which I responded that I had looked at the calendar and knew today was February 14th, and thus Valentine’s Day. He got quiet for a moment, and hopped up into his carseat, and continued to press the issue. I think he finally accepted my response when I had basically repeated the same answer to him 3 times, but I don’t think he quite understands the concept of dates yet. I’m not too worried about it though, I’m sure that will come soon enough, it must be happier just living in a world with no deadlines!

The conversation did get me thinking about the history of Valentine’s Day though. I stumbled upon the following on the history channel’s website:

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 270 A.D -- others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to 'Christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival. In ancient Rome, February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors. Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15, 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 the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat's hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would 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 then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14, St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.

Now you can not complain about the “Hallmark holiday” nature of Valentine’s Day, and even if you don’t get anything from your significant other, just be thankful that you weren’t touched with goat hide strips today!

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