Sunday, February 8, 2015

“I love bright red drinks, don’t you?

They taste twice as good as any other color.” 
~L.M. Montgomery Anne of Green Gables
RED is energizing! At least that is what the research says; it excites emotions and motivates us to take action...but I would not follow that advice at a stop sign or a red light!  It also signifies a pioneering spirit and leadership qualities as well as promoting ambition and determination. 
With Valentine's Day looming this week, it is better known as the color of sexuality (forget grey) and is the love color if you read the color symbol information.  Another interesting tidbit is that it can stimulate the appetite and is used in restaurants for that purpose.
Valentine's Day originates from the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia which was held on February 15 and was a fertility festival.  When the Romans invaded France, they introduced this festival in which Roman boys drew names of Roman girls out of an urn (to determine their partners), and then the couple exchanged gifts on the festival's day.  This was considered a pagan celebration, so in 469 C.E., Pope Gelasius decided to put a Christian spin on this celebration by declaring that it was now to honor St. Valentine, a young Roman who was martyred by Emperor Claudius II, and who was said to have died on February 14, 270 C.E. for refusing to give up Christianity.  Rumor has it that St. Valentine was a priest who defied the emperor's ban on marriages by marrying young people in secret.  He was discovered and put to death.

Originally the word Valentine meant the person whose name was picked from a box to be chosen as your sweetheart up until the 1500's.  Then around 1533, it meant the folded piece of paper with the sweetheart's name on it.  By 1610 it then became the gift given to this special someone and by 1824 it then became a poem, letter or verse to a sweetheart.
Another early variation of Lupercalia sounds like a pilot for a reality TV show with the Kardashians.   Two Roman youths (who were blessed by their priest) would run through the streets swinging a goatskin thong called a Februa, the Latin word is Februatio (the act of lashing with sacred thongs), and was believed to be for purification.  From this word comes our word "February".  And the belief is that if a woman was touched by this thong, she would be able to bear children better.  According to the legend, they did this to honor their God Faunus, the god of crops.
Another theory about Valentine's Day doesn't begin with the Romans but with Norse.  The Normans had a St. Galantin, which meant "lover of women."  Now the "G" is not pronounced like a "Gah" in the English language.  It is pronounced like a "V" and so the word is like "Valantin" in sound.  They believe that their St. Galantin's Day is part of the confusion over St. Valentine's Day .
St. Valentine's Day did not come to America until 1629 with the Puritans, and even here went against some of the church elders.  But love prevails, and the church could not hold back love and passion even in the New World.  About 100 years passed before the first Valentine Cards appeared in the United States.  
Margery Brews (England) wrote the oldest known valentine in letter form dated 1477, sent to John Paston.  For Valentine once meant "sweetheart" it grew to represent "message of love."
On 2-14-1667, Samuel Pepys in his diary described a valentine that he got from his wife.  It was a sheet of blue paper in which her name was written in gold letters. This became the forerunner of later valentines.  But the custom didn't grow quickly.  It took 100 years before it was common to leave a valentine love letter at the doorstep of your sweetheart.
So however you will celebrate Valentine's Day, whether you are looking for a flying thong or simply a love letter on your doorstep, remember as Robert Fulghum wrote in True Love...
“We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness—and call it love—true love.”   

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