Do you know what I discovered the other day? Valentine’s Day is on its way! And depending on whether you have someone special in your life at the present time, V-Day can be a bitch, which is really a shame. We need as many expressions of love as we can get our hands on in this day and age.
So many people absolutely loathe Valentine’s Day. Many comedy routines have been written about the single man who breaks up with a woman in January—so as to avoid Valentine’s Day and the expectations of everything from a dozen roses to an engagement ring—and resumes his booty calls in March, if his boo hasn’t murdered him in the interim.
I’ve been there. In my youth I had many a “butt-ugly cry” Valentine’s Day moment because some “jabroni” ghosted on me because of that forced romantic day coordinated by the card, chocolate, and flower industry (“But, I thought he loved me, boo-hoo…”). Or worse, there was no man within a million miles of me that cared if I lived or died. Consequently, I feel about Valentine’s Day like I feel about Mother’s Day: love and respect me every single freakin’ day of the year, and we’ll be good for the count on the V-Day and the M-Day.
Of course, in the interest of full disclosure, I have been married to one of the most romantic men in the world for the past 39 years, and my Boo tends to knock it out of the park on Valentine’s Day. I’m not gonna lie: it does feel good after all those years of living in a loveless desert. But he also fulfills my primary wish of making my everyday loving worth the journey. Valentine’s Day is just the cherry on top. I guess what I’m sayin’ is that this giant manipulative day should not break or make a relationship—it is the daily issues of the heart that count.
As I began to muse over the pros and cons of Valentine’s Day, I decided to check out its history. Turns out, this whole thing started out as an ancient fertility festival thousands of years ago. It was called the Festival of Lupercalia. If one were fortunate or misfortunate enough (especially if you were a woman) to be living during that time, to celebrate this fertility mash-up, men would strip themselves naked, kill a bunch of goats, pull a single woman’s name out of a gourd and commence to whipping the shit out of said woman with the remains of a bloody goat. No word on how many woman hooked up with these “dreamy” men or how many children were born as a result of the bloody goat S&M chase. (Personally, I would have become a lesbian on the spot—right there in the middle of the first bloody-goat whip: “Yo, yo, yo, people, I’m battin’ for the other team!”.) But when the Catholic Church took a gander at this pagan ritual of “love” a century later, Pope Gelasius I decided that this nastiness could use a bit of dry cleaning for the “modern world” of the 15th Century. The Pope reached back into the Third century and pulled up not one but two martyrs by the name of Valentine who had been beheaded by Claudius II. Viola! Bloody goat festival was now out and St. Valentine’s Day (honoring two Christian saints) was now in! Ain’t life grand?
The info about how a fertility festival got turned into Valentine’s Day was so fascinating, I decided to check out the history of Valentine’s cards since this is an American ritual from kindergarten to the nursing home. (Remember purchasing enough Valentine cards for every child in your kid’s elementary school class? Or even worse—in the teen years—when every kid in the class received a Valentine card except your kid? At that point, I usually wanted to kill somebody and bring down a pox on all their houses.) Did you know that 18.2 billion dollars was spent on Valentine accoutrement last year and 1 billion of that total was on V-Day cards? Holy Moly! Who’s buying all these cards? According to the Greeting Card Association, 85% of V-Day cards are purchased by women.
I must confess that I’ve spent hours over the course of my lifetime looking for the “perfect” Valentine’s Day card—wanting to express that perfect sentimental, gushy statement. But, like most things, V-Day cards weren’t always flowery profusions of love. Between 1840 and 1930 there was a thing called “Vinegar Cards”—featuring rude, insulting poetry sent by a person’s haters to course-correct some behavior the sender thought was abhorrent in the receiver. Like the Facebook and Twitter trolls of today, the Vinegar Cards were sent anonymously.
Some call you, madam, a female dog,
They err, for you certainly are a whole hog;
Of your piggish charms need I say more.
When your temper is up you’re a bit of a bore.
The devil it’s said once went into the swine,
And none but he will e’er be your Valentine.
From: American Antiquarian Society in Worcester
OR HOW ABOUT THIS ONE…
“You’ve got a dual personality. And nobody likes either of them!”
Yikes! Some of these Vinegar Cards could get so brutal that duels between men would break out because of them.
Come to think of it, I could use a few of these Vinegar Cards today when expressing my Valentine disgust with the current administration. What if I sent one to Trump over his latest support of the wife beaters on his staff?
Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
The fish rots from the head,
Shame on you.
Or how about a Vinegar Card to the Evangelical leaders who came out in support of Trump’s support of the wife beaters in the White House:
Roses are Red,
Violets are Blue,
Are you sayin’ it’s okay to abuse women?
‘Cause that’s what Jesus would do?
Signed: Screw you!
On the other hand, spewing hatred against hatred rarely stomps out the fires of war. So I suppose spreading a little bit of love via flowers, cards, candy, or jewelry is better than nothing. We all have such hurting hearts, and we all could use a little love these days (actually a lot of love, if the truth be known). So bring it on! From my heart to your heart with love: HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
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