Saturday, February 13, 2010

Valentine's Day

Here is an excerpt from an article on the History of Valentine's Day.
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.
The article goes further to describe Lupercalia:

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.
It would be interesting to have data on these pairings to determine how often they actually ended in marriage. I doubt the success rate was higher than speed dating or being high school sweethearts, but the lottery system might have some promise (just so long as you're not stuck with your unlucky draws for life).

The blind-date lotteries look like a centralized system of blind dating, which might not be so bad if the goal is help people find their best match. Lottery dating might help people meet potential mates who they would have never thought to approach because they were "out of their league." Aside from broadening horizons, these lotteries may have increased the number of connections a person made with members of the opposite sex. This further increases the chances of finding a marriageable mate.

Most people who showed up to the blind-date lotteries were probably just looking for a good time. Yet, it's possible that meeting a surprisingly fun person at a lottery could lead to a happy match -- a match for life. Nine years ago, I wasn't looking for marriage when I approached a friend's friend at her locker, but I am sure glad I asked her on that date.

This is a poll post, so I better get to the poll.

What do you think of Valentine's Day?

(a) Just a Hallmark holiday
(b) A wonderful celebration of love
(c) Merely singles out singles
(d) Too much pressure on previously-happy couples

The vote begins now, and the poll (on the sidebar -->) is open for a week. Vote early and often. Tell your sweetheart to vote, and remember that voting is anonymous. At any rate, I am looking forward to seeing what you have to say.

1 comment:

  1. Final Tally:

    13 said Hallmark Holiday
    12 said Celebration of Love
    5 said Singles out Singles
    4 said Too much pressure


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