Valentine’s Day in America: Another Good Pagan Festival Gone Bad

Dedicated to my righteous niece, Harvey H. (yes, it’s a nickname), who celebrates a February that includes her birthday, Valentine’s Day, and a series of Pagan rituals shared with her true love and main man just back from Afghanistan. Who loves ya, baby?

When in Rome, don’t you dare ask  a Christian where to find the party.

Like Christmas, Valentine’s Day began as a perfectly good Pagan romp in mid February, only to be co-opted by the Christians and then perverted into a commercial enterprise.

Originally celebrated on the ides of February, Lupercalia served as a fertility festival seeking favor from Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, while paying homage to Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

True believers knew that Romulus and Remus had been raised by a she-wolf, or lupus. To kick off the celebration, the Luperci, an order of Roman Priests, held counsel at the sacred cave where they believed the she-wolf raised Romulus and Remus from infancy.

A sacrificial dog for purification? Has anyone seen how they bathe?

As one of the rites, priests killed a canine for purification. I’ve known a lot of men and dogs  and never thought them to contain pure anything. Next, the Luperci would sacrifice a goat for fertility.

Priests would then butcher the goat’s hide into long strips, dip them in sacrificial blood, and take to the streets, gently slapping women and crop fields to spread the fertile claret. Women welcomed the sticky touch of moist hide, believing they would wax more fecund in the year to come.

As a quick aside, the introduction of a monotheistic patriarchal god in human society arrives as a fairly recent metaphysical concept. Ancient societies featured gods for every human need.

Since the beginning of ancient agriculture, goddesses representing life and fertility, received praise and prayer from worshipers begging for rain, fat crops, and plump, low-hanging fruit. Any village idiot knew better than to sacrifice a perfectly good goat on a heartless, destructive warrior god.

Now, back to our story. According to legend, all the young women of the city would place their names in a giant urn. The city’s bachelors would choose a name from the urn and become paired with that woman for the following year. On a romantic note, these matches often ended in marriage.  I suppose I’ve grown nostalgic for those halcyon days when “Be my she-bitch” used to mean something to an eligible young woman.

Life ain’t over if didn’t score a date today. Save your self-loathing for the holidays.

Those of you anticipating more than auto-erotic stimulation tonight, may find reassurance in the knowledge that February is also Cherry Month, Creative Romance Month, and Condom Month. I hope you all have a blast.

Those of you who, like me, anticipate the mechanical amelioration of self love, will have to content ourselves with the fact that February also happens to represent Library Lovers Month, Sinus pain Awareness Month, and Potato Lovers Month.

So what the hell is Valentine’s Day good for? Ya got me. February 15th should be dedicated as National Half-Off Chocolate Day. I plan to honor the day, mowing down a box of chocolate caramels.

The nights that follow will brim with open reservations and maitre di’s who suspend contempt. Eagerly they will bow and scrape, heralding your entrance to that swanky, overpriced joint, where you will still pay double for half the portions, on a dish you could never pronounce in the first place.

Skip the candied commercialism of this contrived ritual and go Pagan on the weekend.

If you hope to show your beef cake or princess a good time, go do it on a night when you actually have the energy to do it on that night. Valentine’s night will be packed with knuckleheads who’ve bought into the marketing campaign. Leave your porch and you won’t escape them.

Annoying, hopeless romantics will fester within the popular venues like rats in a cage, resenting fellow mammals who compete for the same limited space and resources.

Your favorite nighttime hot spot will teem with a maddening crowd that violates the fire code. Your night’s first casualty, intimacy, will spend its last breath muttering curses to a night gone bad.

Make love, not reservations.

People celebrate Valentine’s Day because advertisers tell them to do so. But genuine expressions of love don’t require glossy photos or TV commercials. Create your own tradition to honor your true love, and skip this device whose sole aim remains to enrich the pockets of various retail industries. If you’re still determined to buy into the magical ideal of true love, go buy the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyers.

You can always celebrate your own pagan ritual at the crib with a good bottle of wine, a bit of cheese, and imported chocolate. Hit the rack early with your partner, and take advantage of some quality “Business Time” while you still have the energy to match your libido.

What is true love? Does anybody really know?

If you’re lucky, your answer will include something about a partner who understands sacrifice, selflessness, and who won’t shy away from all the hard work.

William M. Thackeray
To love and win is the best thing. To love and lose, the next best.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
If I love you, what business is it of yours?

S. Johnson
Love is the wisdom of the fool and the folly of the wise.

No matter how badly your heart is broken, the world does not stop for your grief.



6 comments on “Valentine’s Day in America: Another Good Pagan Festival Gone Bad

  1. Love the blog, eloquently written and thank you for the Link…
    The whole pagan ritual made me think of a saying back home when something is a ‘Better than…’ scenario, ‘Better than a slap in the eye with a wet ferret’, and yes I get the strangest looks in NY when I say it, but the whole ‘goats hide slap around the face’ reminded me of it… just makes me think how ridiculously funny the world can be!

  2. *Snorkle*
    Funny and informative as always

  3. I lol’d at this one

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