Valentines Day is the Celine Dion of holidays – you either love it so much you experience butterflies in your stomach in anticipation, or it drives you so crazy that you want to tie it up, gag it and pummel it with whiffle bats.
For those with a significant other it’s a day of romance, a day where star-crossed lovers express their love for each other with flowers, chocolate and greeting cards. For those sans-partner it’s a day of self reflection, Dr Phil, Hagen Daas and Dido.
To me it’s a day of treason.
In my humble opinion, Valentines Day should go down in history as the première example of mankind’s lack of respect for tradition, and at the risk of being unpopular I’m calling for a global boycott of the day until we return to its original intent.
Time for a history lesson…
The earliest recorded celebration of February 14th was at a time in our history when mankind was it its simplest. It dates back to pre-Roman times when pagans held a love-fest that made schoolies look like Bible camp. Feb 14th kicked off Lupercalia, the Glastonbury of pre-Roman times, a fertility festival that had it all; wine, women, song, goats, sex and ritual sacrifice.
Greek historian Plutarch described Lupercalia as a day that was celebrated by shepherds, when many of the noble youths and magistrates ran through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they met with shaggy thongs (which led to people ultimately coining the expression ‘shagging’.
At Lupercalia they kicked things off the traditional way. The fun started with drinking and the sacrifice of a pair of goats, and then the festival revealed its true intent – a celebration of spontaneous love.
For men, there was a lottery where they drew the name of a young woman from a bowl and then kept the woman as a sexual companion for the year. Hell yes!
For women not involved in the lottery, Lupercalia was even better than Christmas morning at Brangelina’s house. At dawn on Feb 14th women excitedly leapt out of bed and ran to the door, for it was commonly believed that the first man they set eyes on that day would become their husband.
(For those unfamiliar with the history of women’s rights, the ‘lottery’ and ‘love at first glance’ traditions at Lupercalia were actually mankind’s first steps towards today’s genuine equality between men and women. But those were simpler times.)
So February 14th blithely survived the ages free from corruption until Pope Gelasius declared the day ‘St. Valentine’s Day’ around 498 A.D. However, as bad as attaching a religious connotation to a boink-fest was, it wasn’t until the Middle Ages that Valentines Day became truly corrupted– when it was associated with ‘romance’ thanks to Chaucer linking the tradition of V-Day to ‘courtly love’ (prick).
From that point on it was down hill all the way… By the early 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine’s Day became common in England. Later that century Richard Cadbury introduced the first Valentine’s Day box of chocolates, which while revolutionary in bringing affordable chocolate to lovestruck masses, also had the negative impact of leading to today’s high levels of child slavery in the Ivory Coast (the world’s largest producer of cocoa – the main ingredient in chocolate).
More recently Valentines Day has degenerated so far that it is now more commonly recognised as an enforced commercial tradition in pursuit of ‘romantic’ love rather than its original intent of helping us to spontaneously propagate our species.
And how far has the mighty V-Day fallen, you ask?
Well, up until 1929 people kept doing their best to marry the traditions of Lupercalia with the more recently popular perversions of V-Day; they raced out and bought flowers, chocolates, then wooed, wined and dined and did their utmost to get laid.
But then disaster struck when Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming effectively neutered V-Day by launching Penicillin to the world on February 14. While it was marketed as a popular treatment for venereal diseases (such as syphilis), Fleming’s well-intentioned launch of Penicillin on V-Day actually did more damage than good by drawing the public’s attention to STD’s and scaring people off sex.
Today Durex, the world’s largest condom manufacturer, says condom sales are highest around Valentine’s Day – almost 20 to 30 percent higher than usual. And manufacturers of at-home pregnancy tests say more are sold in March than in any other month, so how do you propagate a species if you’re scared of sex or babies?
So, in the true spirit of Lupercalia I beg you to take this opportunity to show your respect for tradition, for John Curtin’s well meaning ‘Populate or Perish’ policy and for all mankind’s reverence for the horizontal Lambada.
Go to a swinger’s party (but please avoid the places Herman Rockefeller went) and throw your car keys into a bowl and see what develops. And if there aren’t any in your area, greet Valentines’ Day at your front door dressed in whatever strikes your fancy and see how your day turns out.
Anything could happen, even love!