And so it begins. That day…that wonderful, romantic day, where frightened significant others everywhere rush to the flower shops, candy stores, lingerie departments and/or “Adult Novelty” stores (because hope springs eternal), with the intent to purchase the perfect Valentine’s offering for the partner they cherish (tolerate). Those partners, meanwhile, flock to the hair and nail salons, for the mani/pedis and the new ‘do’s and the full Brazilians (he didn’t look Brazilian) so that we can look beautiful and hairless in all the right places (armpits) while we wonder why in the fuck they bought us another rose/vibrator/thong. (For the love of Pete. Would it kill them to buy us an iTunes giftcard?) Then, we will all descend en masse upon romantic venues with ridiculous wait times to be served overpriced food by jaded but homicidally cheerful wait staff who will be pushed to their limits by people who cannot pronounce what they are eating, but who insist they know how it should be prepared.
Happy Valentine’s Day.
The day of LOVE, cynics say, that was created by greeting card companies in an effort to ruin our relationships, bankrupt us and guarantee that we will NOT get to bury the bone in the bush o’brillo. Or whatever. (Why do they never like the thongs?)
Well, they are wrong, those cynics. It’s actually much worse than that.
LUPERCALIA: A Pagan Festival in February.
That’s right. Pagan. As with most things, it began with naked romans hitting people with goat flesh.
(Do I sound gleeful? It’s because I am. I might even be dancing.)
Celebrated on the ides of February, or the 15th, for the non-naked-Roman readers, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, and Faunus, the Roman God of Agriculture.
Fecund-apalooza, if you will. It began at a sacred cave. At this cave, where it was believed the infants Romu and Remu were cared for by a she-wolf, or Lupa, an order of Roman priests known as the Luperci, would sacrifice a goat for fertility, and a dog for purification.
Please read this next part, an actual excerpt from The History Channel, aloud. Preferably in Morgan Freeman’s voice, if you can afford him:
They would then cut the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, GENTLY SLAPPING BOTH WOMEN AND CROP FIELDS WITH THE GOAT HIDE. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.
So, S&M Speed-dating.
Kinda puts a whole new spin on the holiday, doesn’t it?
Makes that piece of overcooked meat on your plate a little less romantic?
But don’t let it harsh your mellow on the whole holiday. The chocolate, the roses, the tacky underwear – all of those things may be part of a commercial plot to rob the holiday of its hot, throbbing roots. But we still pay homage to the fundamental je ne sais quoi of those pagan days of yore….
You still wind up standing naked by the sacred cave, hoping for sex. (But we’re still not wearing that ugly thong)
And somebody still gets hit with some meat.
(That last part may just be me…..)