Valentine’s is a time when we are supposed to spend time with those we love and who are dear to us. I think it’s a bit on the sad side that we have to have a day each year which we set aside to do that rather than making it a part of the normal routine of our lives, but there’s nothing bad about it. It is a good thing to celebrate those we love and hold dear…or, as the case may be, deer.
On Saturday, I took my wife out to a downtown shopping area not far from where we live so she could wander the stores. (She likes to do that as you probably know by now…) I meant to take my Canon with me, but accidentally walked off and left it at home when I became distracted, so all I had with me was my Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smart phone and its camera. One of the first stores we walked in to was full of old-timey stuff and was a fun place. As I wandered around looking to things that might make interesting pictures, I lifted my eyes and they alighted on the subject of today’s post. I thought it might be very apropos for Valentine’s Day…the precious deer is decked out in pearls around the neck and dangle-y earrings. Perfect gifts for Valentine’s Day, don’t you think?
And so, on this Valentine’s Day, be a deer hart and spend some time with your dear ones.
ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 270 A.D. (or thereabouts), Valentine, a holy priest in Rome in the days of Emperor Claudius II, was executed.
Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many unpopular and bloody campaigns. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military leagues. Claudius believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families.
To get rid of the problem, Claudius banned all marriages and engagements in Rome. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret.
When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. Valentine was arrested and dragged before the Prefect of Rome, who condemned him to be beaten to death with clubs and to have his head cut off. The sentence was carried out on February 14, on or about the year 270.
Legend also has it that while in jail, St. Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and signed it “From Your Valentine.”
For his great service, Valentine was named a saint after his death.
In truth, the exact origins and identity of St. Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.” One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.
Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love. On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.
Gradually, February 14 became a date for exchanging love messages, poems and simple gifts such as flowers.
TRIVIA FOR TODAY: during the ancient Roman festival Lupercalia (an ancient precursor to Valentine’s Day), two boys would run through crowds of people swinging strings made from goatskins. If the strings touched a girl, it was divined that she would have healthy children when she grew up. The goatskins were called februa, which means to make clean and from which “February” derives.