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Valentines Day Legends
Turning back the hands of time to discover the origins of Saint Valentine's Day reveals a dark, sordid beginning that eventually develops into the sweet love struck holiday celebrated today. Valentines day affections enrich retail coffers to the tune of $1 billion dollar and 36 million heart shaped boxes of Chocolates sold, falling into 4th position in Candy sales behind Halloween Easter and Christmas. Shall we blame mischievous Cupid's arrow and his delight in piercing hearts causing people to fall in love? Cupid, or Cupido, meaning desire in Latin was the son of Venus, the Goddess of Love and Eros, the God of Erotica. Or is there much more to the origins of Valentines day that flows so smoothly into our conversations?
There are many Valentines day legends and Valentines stories that transcend the generations, but how did Chocolate get involved, was there really a person named Valentine? How did he become Saint Valentine? Be prepared for rowdy Romans, nudity, debauchery, animal sacrifices, tender romance and plenty of erotica. Fortunately, Valentines celebrations have changed significantly and are much simpler since the beginnings of earlier Valentines Days. Here's one of the most believable Valentines day origins that ties ancient events together for us today.
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Ancient Romans celebrated February 14 to honor Juno, the Roman Queen of the Gods and Goddesses. Records from 44 BC show The Wolf Festival, or Lupercalia, started the next day. The Wolf Festival was in honor of Lupa, the female wolf who was believed to have suckled the infant orphans, Romulus and Remus, who were the founders of Rome. Lupercalia also honored Lupercus, the Roman equivalent of Pan, Lupercus was the God of Shepherds. This Pre Roman pastoral festival was to purify the city, discourage evil spirits and to release good health, abundance, fertility and new life in the Spring for the citizens of Rome.
The Luperci, an order of Roman priests, nude except for goat skins, would open the festival celebrations at Lupercal, the sacred cave where the female wolf cared for Romulus and Remus. There the priests would sacrifice two male goats to ensure fertility and a dog as a symbol of purification. The priests cut thongs from the skinned animal sacrifices and dressed themselves in these skins and ran around the walled city striking people close by. Girls and women were eager to be slapped with the animal hides as it was believed to prevent sterility, ensure fertility and diminish childbirth pains.
Another festival highlight was the lotto style sexual pairing. Women placed their names in an urn and the lusty young men randomly drew names of the woman who would be their partner during the Rites of Pan and for the following year. Pan was the son of Hermes and Penelope- a lover of merry noise. In the Rite of Pan, the female is the prey and the male is the hunter, Pan the unkempt Shepherd God spent his time drinking, dancing and chasing nymphs.
The magistrates and other energetic Roman youths would race naked and drunk through the city and were eagerly cheered on by women hoping to be slapped with the symbolic goat skins and to find an energetic partner for the coming year.
With all of this merriment Emperor Claudius II (Claudius the Cruel) found potential soldiers preferred making love instead of war on Rome's enemies. Claudius felt that the men's energies were being wasted on their sweethearts, when there was killing to be done, so he outlawed engagements and marriages in Rome. Another more compassionate Priest named Valentine defied the Emperor and secretly married people until he was eventually caught, arrested, tossed into prison. There Valentine fell in love with the blind daughter of the Jailer, because of their love her vision was restored and before Valentine was beheaded by order of the Emperor, he sent his love a note signed "From Your Valentine." He was beheaded on February 14, 270. The Catholic church honored his martyrdom thus making him a Ssaint and worked hard to Christianize the enjoyable pagan festival of Lupercalia.
The Catholic church was intent on eliminating the sexual pursuits of the festival and instead honored St Valentine. The romance and love won out over the pagan rituals and animal sacrifices. Public performance of Pagan rituals were outlined in the 5th century and only the rabble classes, rather than the upper classes, would still celebrate the more pagan ritualistic festivities. Around 498 AD Pope Gelasius declared February 14, St Valentines Day a festival day to celebrate fertility, love and romance, rather than the drunken orgy that it once was.
The earliest Valentine's day poem still in existence, written by Charles, the French Duke of Orlean, to his wife during his idle time as a prisoner in the Tower of London. This Valentine greeting belongs to the British Library collection in London.
Valentines Day Facts:
* Early American pilgrims cherished Valentines gifts since sugar was very rare.
* Cadbury of England created the first Valentines Heart Box of Chocolate in 1861.
* Hallmark Cards created Valentines day cards in the 19th century.
* Heart shaped boxes grew in popularity in North America starting in the 19th century.
Since the ancient Mayan and Aztecs first discovered Sacred Cacao, our chocolate passion has only grown. Chocolate was believed to be an aphrodisiac thus increasing it's association with love, romance and passion. Could it be the natural chemical phenylethylamine is responsible for our attraction and pleasurable response to Chocolate? Or is it our ancestors whispering to us?
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