Sunday, February 14, 2010

If I can't get a man then I'll have to get a parrot

I avoid the commercial saints generally but Saint Valentine is so mangled, mauled & maligned, I cannot resist him. Let's take a look:

There are two Saint Valentines documented for this day, but lots of people believe he was actually just the one person. This is an interesting twist right there as many individual saints are often more than one person, blended together. Man One was imprisoned for giving aid to imprisoned martyrs (that is a hard one to picture; did he break into the jail?). Man Two is less well documented, but mostly had the same name, was also beheaded (on the order of a guy named Placid Furius, no less) & was big with healing prisoners. There is not a whiff of earthly love around either of them. Okay, maybe a whiff.  There is an intriguing reference to the jailer's daughter, but it really is just the faintest whiff. As for why just Man One & Man Two, I could not say, there are a dozen or more Valentines in the index.

But lets just settle for these two beheaded priests who ministered to prisoners (not in a prison movie way). The whole romance thing seems to have more to do with pre-christian rituals about the day. That's right, apparently neither Valentine himself is not the reason for the season.

Before christianity was a twinkle in a rabbi's eye, the day recognized now as February 15th was the Festival of Lupercalia, the She-Wolf that nursed Romulus & Remus. Before it was Lupercalia, it was well, something else. Everyone forgot & that is how the She-Wolf got into it. & interestingly, gender-bending type events were part of the festivities even before it was Lupercalia. Now, of course Sadie Hawkins Dances are often held on a near weekend to Saint Valentines Day, although Sadie Hawkins Day is actually in November. Confused yet? It gets better.

It is not just ancient history that muddies the waters, there is also our history. After cards, chocolate, etc. the most famous thing about Saint Valentine's Day is the massacre, which has nothing to do with Saint Valentine's Day. Every american film buff knows at least part of the confusing 1929 story. Or thinks they do. At a minimum it was the driving force for so many famous films, not the least of which was Some Like It Hot, still a high water mark for gender confusion in film.

Another Saint Valentine's Day massacre was the bloody match between Sugar Ray Robinson & Jake La Motta. It was not all that pretty either.

More recently, Saint Valentine's Day has been adopted by feminists (THEM!) as a rallying point for the whole "woman needs man like fish needs bicycle" aesthetic. Which has triggered a "take back the day" movement from...people who want to buy cards...?

Poor Saint Valentine. Look what they've done to his day.  Or their day.  Or his days.  Or, yea I'm done.

//it was only as I was testing the links that I realized the Steeleye Span version does not have the verse that is the title of this post. So here it is.

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