Wednesday, February 14, 2007

All Hearts

I couldn't resist putting up this picture of my marmelade hearts that I made for my granny last year. She had her 100th birthday in May!

Well, yes I know, it's Valentine's Day, and it's not about grannies - but why not?! Aren't they lovely though?

Anyway, I found an explanation about the origins of Valentine's day on Wikipedia and it seems that it originated from the Romans.They celebrated a fertility festival in the middle of February, which seemed quite lively...

It was called Lupercalia. This is from Plutarch (a Greek historian):

"Lupercalia, of which many write that it was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy."

This festival was local to the city of Rome, but was banned by Pope Gelasius I (yes, the one that asserted the sacred power of bishops as separate from and over royal power in the end of 5th century - yes, that one!). February was also known for its festival of purification, from which the month got its name - februare "to purify" (yes, this speaks volumes to me as I'm born in February). Some would say that Candlemas (the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin) was put in the place of Lupercalia, but some argue differently. In any case, Pope Gelasius declared in 496 that the Feast of Valentine was to be held on the 14 February.

St. Valentine refers to one or more Christian martyrs "... whose names are justly reverenced among men, but whose acts are known only to God." In other words, Pope Gelasius did not know much about them.

I quite like that statement though, for it is entirely true that it's not possible for us to fully understand another. But God does. It reminds me of a verse in the Bhagavad-gita (7.26) where Krishna says: "I know everything that has happened in the past, all that is happening in the present, and all things that are yet to come. I also know all living entities; but Me no one knows."


your previous neighbour ;-) said...

Valentines is a good excuse to be loving and romantic, but of course this festival got commercialized extensively...

Thank you for the historical background.

Meru said...

Yes, you're right. It's a lot about business. However... I think there is a deep seated need within humans for rituals, and maybe Valentine is just one of them? Dunno.

Hari, Hari!