History of Valentine’s day shrouded in blood, birds, debauchery

(U-WIRE) Valentine’s Day, it seems, evokes trepidation in the hearts of singles feeling the pressure to couple up on this loneliest of holidays.

Well, before you despair in spending yet another disappointing night with boyfriends Jim Beam, Jack Daniels or Jameson, allow me to educate you on the not-so-romantic history of Valentine’s Day.

According to the History Channel, the legends of St. Valentine are uncertain and numerous.

One legend has the priest Valentine marrying young couples during the third century in Rome, after Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriage for young men, believing that single men made better soldiers.

Claudius then ordered Valentine to be put to death for his disobedience.

Another legend states that Valentine sent the first “valentine greeting” to a jailer’s daughter that he fell in love with while being imprisoned. He signed this letter, “from your valentine,” an expression still used today.

Yet another belief in England and France during the Middle Ages is that Feb. 14 is the beginning of birds’ mating season, hence a day for romance.

A more interesting claim, which I hope will relieve any ill-feelings of those flying solo on this supposedly romantic holiday, is that according to the History Channel, the Christian Church decided to celebrate a Valentine’s feast in the middle of February to “Christianize” the pagan fertility festival Lupercalia.

This festival involved Roman priests sacrificing a goat for fertility and a dog for purification.

Boys from the town would then cut the animal’s hide into strips, dip the strips into sacrificial blood and then take to the streets, slapping both fields and women with the hides in the hope of increasing fertility.

Later in the day, as the legend goes, the women of the city would place its names in a big urn to be picked from by the male bachelors, and then the two would be paired for the rest of the year.

We are talking “Flavor of Love” meets “Silence of the Lambs” — blood, babies and debauchery.

Luckily there were no video cameras in those days, or VH1 would most likely be salivating at the prospect of filming this festival to add to their sophisticated dating-show repertoire.

Extreme consumerism aids this dubious history to puncture even the most brilliant crimson Valentine’s Day heart.

The Valentine’s page also states that 188 million greeting cards are exchanged annually, making Valentine’s Day the second most popular greeting card-giving occasion.

The U.S. Census Bureau states that the total value of shipments for firms producing chocolate or cocoa products reached 14.9 billion. Wholesale value of domestically produced cut flowers in 2006 reached 411 million.

When Valentine’s Day fever hits, and you feel as if everyone around you is lost within the throes of young love, consider how much money you will save on flowers, cards and gifts.

Feel a sense of accomplishment for not jumping on the bandwagon of this misled holiday and not allowing the production companies to convince you that only a heart-shaped box will banish your loneliness.

So this year you didn’t get hit by cupid’s arrow, or “smacked with a blood soaked piece of hide.” Do not follow the lead of long ago participants in the Lupercalia festival, pairing off halfhazardly, fertility in mind.

Try to remember this gross consumerism and loveless history when you’re throwing back ridiculously cheap drinks; priced low to contribute to the coupling-up fever that is Valentine’s Day.

If you are in love this holiday, realize that it is a day like any other and that the true romance will only be found in the strength of your individual relationship.

Ludicrously high expectations of glittering diamonds or heart-felt declarations of love will only leave you disappointed.

Should you hit the Valentine’s Day jackpot, leave your arrogance and monster-size box of chocolates at home. Singles will feel sickened by it, regardless of this testimony to the lackluster holiday history.

Singles — tonight, when you hit the bar hoping for one last shot at a Valentine, remember to keep it classy.

Remember that this is currently meant to be a holiday shrouded in respect for romance.

Getting laid on Valentine’s night is not the same as getting a box of candy.

If you let the hype and loneliness drive you, the only memory you’ll have of Cupid is an awkward morning and a walk-of-shame home — not exactly the poetic adoration found within the confines of a Valentine’s Day greeting card.

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