Sunday, February 10, 2013

Are you ready for a good Valentine's Day whipping?

   Well, this is a bit late (as usual), but this time you can blame my sister.  She is apparently testing me to see how much work she can pile on without it becoming fatal.  Little does she know, when she overloads me with work, I just forego all those other non-essential tasks in my day, like writing posts, doing my invoicing, eating and sleeping.  Ha!  The joke’s on her.
   I’m sure everyone realizes that Thursday is Valentine’s Day (far more important than the birthday of President Lincoln on Tuesday or Washington next Friday).  Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, time for naked men to run through the streets whipping women with lashes cut from freshly killed goats.  What?  You don’t celebrate it Roman style?  Come on, flogging your sweetheart has got to be better, certainly more satisfying, than buying her chocolates and roses.
   Seriously, that was the way Romans celebrated well into the fifth century.  It was a rite of purification and fertility.  Had something to do with Lupa, the female wolf that suckled Romulus and Remus, the orphan brothers who founded Rome.  I’m still a little lost how flagellating young women and boys suckling on a wolf’s teat has anything to fertility; it just doesn’t sound like it could end up with intimate romance.
   But the holiday has evolved into an iconic celebration of love, sex and sappy greeting cards.  You might wonder just who is at fault for those inane poems that cost five bucks and end up in the trash three days later.  Well, there is some uncertainty over just who was Saint Valentine.  The three leading candidates are all holy men named Valentine from the second century and all were beheaded, so don’t lose your head over love.  The most cited “Saint” was a priest who performed secret nuptials for lovers prohibited from marriage.  He was supposedly imprisoned where he fell in love with the warden’s daughter.  On the day of his execution, he wrote her a letter and signed it, “From your Valentine.”
   Most historians, however, credit Bonne d’Armagnac, the would-be founder of Hallmark, with penning the first true Valentine poem.  He was a French nobleman, Duke Charles of Orleans, and was captured by those fun-loving Brits and tossed into the Tower of London where he languished for twenty-five years.  In his isolation and forced celibacy, he wrote his wife a long rambling, (and rhyming) love poem and used that word, it started: "Je suis déjà d'amour tanné. Ma très douce Valentinée." (I am already sick with love, My very gentle Valentine).  By-the-way, that poetry crap must have worked; she waited for him.  Well, she tried to wait for him; she passed away before Bonne was released and made his way back to France, no word on just how chaste she remained in his absence.
   So don’t forget to buy a poetic card (I found out the hard way not to use that email kind), and enjoy the flogging whichever end you’re on.

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