Wednesday, February 11, 2009

I'm with Capone

I have ALWAYS hated Valentine's Day. I believe that the roots of this hatred began branching through the ground all the way back to the third grade when we were evidently "old enough" to begin to give our classmates "special" valentines. I didn't know I was old enough and to be honest there wasn't anybody I was particularly overtly fond of in my class - I was holding out for a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn type with a Foghorn Leghorn send of humor. However that was the year the elementary school flood gates of love opened up. I wish I could say that I remember everyone getting a big shiny red heart box of candy except for me and because of that rejection I began to mistreat my stuffed animals and recite the words to "Hotel California" over and over...but that wasn't until college. I only remember a couple of girls getting the boxes of candy, one because she was really the nicest girl in class and the other girl because I'm pretty sure she told everybody if they didn't bring her candy she was going to stick their head under the merry go round while she triumphantly rode atop their gravel-burned faces.
Valentine's Day just seems like such an "icky" holiday. You know, hearts and flowers and teddy bears and other stuff that make the sides of my mouth hurt like I've eaten something rancid, it's just too much. There are entire aisles of Wal-Mart that look like they've been hosed down with Pepto Bismol, stocked to the roof with cutesie crap that no one really needs or wants...really? I mean girls, be honest, do you really feel the need for yet ANOTHER life size blood red shag teddy bear wearing heart boxes and a leather jacket? Do we all really believe that nothing says I hold you in the highest regard like an electronic dancing lion that moons you to the tune of "Let's Get It On"?
So I decided to do a little digging and find out just exactly where this whole Valentine's Day thing got its start. As with most things there is a Pagan history and a Christian history - I will desperately try to refrain from comment on either and simply present the facts:
The pagan version goes like this: Back in the days of ancient Rome, because evidently there were no other civilizations and as far as paganism goes, the Romans were exemplary, the 13th thru 15th days of the month of February were celebrated as Lupercalia, a festival set aside to honor Lupa, the wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Essentially there was the sacrifice of goats and dogs, then thongs were made for all the men who would strip down, put on the thongs then tear them off as they were running through the streets so that they could whip the hands of young maidens, thus warding off sterility, helping with pain in childbirth, and quickening delivery of those pregnant women present at the nude thonging. Of course, there was the annointing of virgins with the blood of goats and dogs, no Roman festival or corporate retreat is complete without that, and then there was much free loving in the streets -again, common to Roman festivals and corporate morale building...
The Christian version begins with a pope and a desperate endeavor to keep naked, blood-covered pagans from whipping all of the eligible young women of the land in the streets. It's not complicated, the pope simply made it against law to cut goats, dug up the name of some poor, completely forgotten saint who died on or around that day (St. Valentine) and Christianized the whole thing by making it about said saint. Kind of like what the Baptists have done with the carry-in dinner...minus the maiden-whipping. Technically the celebration of St. Valentine's Day began 200 years after the saint had died - it also continued to be known as Lupercalia and included all the dirty Roman extras for 150 years after Constantine outlawed pagan rituals by making Christianity the law of the land. Proof positive that to the Romans, nothing said loving like thongs made out of dead goat butts.
But my all-time favorite, and the reason that I celebrate Valentine's Day would have to be the events surrounding the holiday in 1929 Chicago when Al Capone got all kinds of ticked off at Bugs Moran and called a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy who had a big old machine gun. Seven men, oddly enough NOT including Bugs Moran, got whipped that day and it wasn't with any goat thong - thus the St. Valentine's Day Massacre - music to ears of bitter women everywhere.
Alas, I am a mama now, so I cannot spread my ill-tempered dogma concerning this useless holiday. Nor will I suggest that my husband, in a display of his unending love for me, strip naked and run through the streets of our fair town smacking people around with a stuff animal, because that's about as close to a goat skin as he's going to get; he's a bit prissy about that kind of thing... I'll just wait, keeping my mouth closed and cleaning off a space on the hutch cabinet for the inevitable electronic dancing lion that moons me to the tune of "Let's Get It On." Ahhhhhhh, that's amore!

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