NOTE: there are lots of notions, theories, assertions, and disagreements about the origins of Valentine’s Day. As I may have mentioned, I am not a historian. With any luck, much of what I publish is accurate, but if you’re looking for real history fuhgedaboutit.
After years of observation, I can sincerely report that Valentine’s Day is a holiday designed to make people miserable.
Saint Valentine is the patron saint of lovers, engaged couples, epilepsy, plague, greetings, travelers, young people, and bee keepers. The guy is a mixed bag saintly-speaking.
The oldest surviving valentine is a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife. The duke wrote the valentine while he was being held in the Tower of London (where he was miserable). He remained (miserably) in the Tower for 24 years.
King Henry VIII declared February 14th a holiday in 1537. Which is ironic considering he killed most of his wives because they didn’t “give him a son”. Like they misplaced the order with the baby factory or something.
Nowadays, we make people miserable by Setting Expectations. Since no one on the planet can live up to these Great Expectations, pretty much everyone is miserable. And poorer since they spent a lot of dough trying to Meet Expectations.
Alexander Graham Bell applied for his patent on the telephone on Valentine’s Day 1876. This is only important because I wrote a blog about phones.
Most men do not send out cards; they buy gifts. If they know what is good for them.
The roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back (maybe) to the Roman fertility festival of Lupercalia when a young man would draw the name of a young woman in a lottery and would then keep the woman as a sexual companion for the year. They might not all have been miserable, but I’m betting it wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns for everyone.
In the Middle Ages, young men and women drew names from a bowl to see who their valentines would be. They would wear these names on their sleeves for one week. Today, to wear your heart on your sleeve means being transparent with your affections.
Or possibly not. See “historian” above.
You can make special Valentine’s reservations at White Castle which is guaranteed to make both you and your date miserable, thereby fitting the theme perfectly. Other fast food chains have joined in, which does nothing to make me happy.
More home pregnancy tests are sold in March than in any other month which is weird because condom sales are highest around Valentine’s Day — 20 to 30% more than usual. There is (probably) something profound to say about this. I don’t know what it might be.
The Italian city of Verona, where Shakespeare’s lovers Romeo and Juliet lived, receives about 1,000 letters addressed to Juliet every Valentine’s Day. This isn’t miserable (except for the Verona post office people) it’s just dumb. Juliet is dead and there is a play to prove it. (Note: Sending letters to Santa makes much more sense–he brings gifts and Shakespeare never demonstrated his willingness to commit suicide for love.)
There’s a lot of candy on Valentine’s Day. Which of course makes sense given the number of people that start diets on January 1st.
Lots (and by lots I mean about 9 million) of people give their pets gifts on Valentine’s Day. This weirded me out until I read that the average amount spent on a pet gift is $5.04 which seems about right. Booker is not going to get a present. He might get any extra treat. Maybe. Please don’t get his hopes up.
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