Once you learn the real history of Valentine’s, no party can measure up.
I really don’t do holidays well. I’ve never enjoyed having the timing of my romantic actions dictated by the calendar, nor my gift-giving or my fondness for trees (damn you, Arbor Day!) Warren Ellis, in wishing everyone a happy “Horny Werewolf day,” reminded me that today isn’t JUST another reminder that our every actions are dictated by consumerism pressures from above – it hearkens back to our more primal days. Days that I think are in order of returning.
February wasn’t always all chocolates and apologizing for not buying flowers. No, in the good old days, the holiday we celebrate as Valentine’s used to be reserved for a dude named Lupercus. According to this article about the holiday that started it all (pilfered from Fatemag), “The god Lupercus, represented by a wolf, would next inspire and command men to behave as wolves, to act as werewolves during [His] festival.”
The holiday, Lupercialia, was celebrated by the wolf-god’s followers, the Luperci, and was quite the rage. As seen on Wikipedia,
The festival began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of two male goats and a dog. Next two patrician young Luperci were led to the altar, to be anointed on their foreheads with the sacrificial blood, which was wiped off the bloody knife with wool soaked in milk, after which they were expected to smile and laugh; the smearing of the forehead with blood probably refers to human sacrifice originally practiced at the festival.
The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the victims, which were called Februa, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, in imitation of Lupercus, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city, the line of which was marked with stones, with the thongs in their hands in two bands, striking the people who crowded near. Girls and young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips.
So the first thing we learn is that in order to celebrate Valentine’s old-school style, all the dudes need to become werewolves. I’m already sold.
“But Ed, what about the romance?” I’m glad you asked. Or at least I’m glad that through the power of my rich imagination I can lie to myself that you did. According to Fatemag, the romance, (as if there isn’t enough already!) came as the wolfmen ran through town whipping the women who gladly lined up for it (ahh the gold old days).
…Once a wolfman had ensnared a woman with his whip or thong, he would lead her away to be his wife or lover for as long as the “romance” lasted.
Yes! Finally, a holiday that makes sense. No lameass heart candies. No flying babies. You don’t even have to waste money on some crappy card that’ll just end up in the trash anyway. No, you just grab your whip, strap on your shaggy goat-skin and go run through the streets “romancing” the parade of women.
Next year I’m totally planning an appropriate Valentines party.