Skip to comments.The Very First Valentines Day: Innuendo, Legends, And Films
Posted on 01/31/2002 5:44:04 PM PST by Starmaker
Valentine's Day returns very soon.
The origins of the holiday are shrouded by the mists of historical innuendo. What follows is an amalgamation of legends which have been told around fireplaces for seventeen hundred years.
In the third century, Emperor Claudius II issued a decree forbidding young men of military age to marry, in the belief that married men would become fond of hearth and home and would be less willing to lead the solitary lives of soldiers.
A Christian priest by the name of Valentine married young men to young women in secret. He did so in defiance of the prevailing law of the Roman Empire, as set forth by Claudius II.
Correspondingly, Valentine was arrested and held in jail for some time. There, he confessed his crime and insulted the Roman gods. Defiant til the end, he stood by everything that he had done, professing his faith in romance and matters of the heart. Hearing this, the jail-keeper´s twentysomething daughter was touched, and developed a sense of great affection for Valentine. They spoke often.
Valentine fell in love with her. As the slaves of Roman Emperor Claudius II took him to his death, he handed the jailkeeper´s daughter a hastily scribbled note. It read, I love you. Remember me. It was signed, Your Valentine.
Despite wanting to be together, the two were separated. Valentine was executed on February 14th. The year was 269.
And then there is the interesting coincidence that in Terni, a city about 50 miles away from Rome, the Bishop of the city was executed on the same day for the same crime. His name was also Valentine.
Before the first Valentine´s Day, there was a festival celebrated by pagans in the hopes of keeping their farms safe from the wolves that would, quite legitimately, come onto them from time to time.
The connection is this: the festival was held on February 15th. The night before the festival each year, on the evening of February 14th, every young woman in town would write her name on a piece of paper, and place it in a jar. Every young man would then draw a name, and dance partners would be matched.
In a very direct echo of this practice, something similar became a tradition in the Middle Ages. Heart-shaped Valentines with names on them would be drawn from a bowl, and then pinned on the sleeves of those who drew them. Thus the concept of wearing your heart on your sleeve.
In the 17th century, a Valentine´s Day party was given by the daughter of Henry IV of France. At this party, flowers were given by suitors to the source of their affections...instituting another tradition.
Over the years, countless traditions have arisen and become a part of Valentine's Day lore. These traditions have centered upon expressions of affection from men to women, and from women to men.
This affection is a spiritual and corporeal heterosynergy, uniting the two halves of the human race in the sort of life-affirming Dialogues which ensure many generations of humanity to come.
In 2002, Valentine´s Day is a great occasion to spend a quiet evening on a couch with your significant other, watching a good movie.
In that regard, seven recommendations:
1. "Braveheart": The greatest film ever made. Scottish warrior-poet William Wallace marries his home-village girlfriend in a secret moonlit ceremony in the forest, safe from the eyes of soldiers in the employ of Edward the Longshanks, the cruel King of England. What follows is the classiest wedding-night scene ever set to film.
2. "Captain Blood": Quite the opposite of what the title might suggest. Peter Blood is a doctor who treats rebel soldiers, and is convicted as a rebel himself for so doing. He is sent to toil in brutal slavery in Jamaica. The slavemaster is a cruel man who aspires to be governor. The slavemaster´s niece is the greatest actress of 1935, the incredibly gorgeous Olivia deHavilland. She takes an interest in Peter Blood, and though she is nobility and he is a slave, the chemistry between them is palpable. And then, in a twist...
3. "The Adventures of Robin Hood": Errol Flynn as Robin Hood and Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marion in the definitive version of the classic tale. Released in 1938, it also features Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains, and Alan Hale. An outlaw with a heart of gold, and a fair maiden under the protection of Richard the Lionheart...
4. "Mr. Blandings Build His Dream House": Cary Grant, Myrna Loy. An attempt to move out of the city and to the country goes awry as a married couple's new home runs into every problem conceivably possible. One of the best comedy-of-errors of all time.
5. "Witness": Harrison Ford, Kelly McGillis. Detective John Book (Ford) finds himself a fish out of water after he leaves the big city to protect a witness in an Amish community. There, he meets a fetching Amish widow (McGillis) named Rachel. Rachel introduces Book to the simple, hard-working, values-driven lifestyle of the Amish, which is portrayed in the film as being very reminiscent of late 19th century rural America. Naturally, Book finds something pleasing about the simple kind of life that the Amish offer to him: chopping wood, raising barns, going to church. He falls in love with Rachel, and she with him. But he can't quite escape the travails of the big city, when two crooked officers come seeking his protected witness.
6. "Meet John Doe" Gary Cooper, Barbara Stanwyck. One of the best films of the WWII era. Stanwyck is a reporter who drafts a drifter, Cooper, into a public-relations scheme. Cooper will present himself as a model of virtue, offering speeches written by Stanwyck. At some point, both Stanwyck and Cooper realize that they actually believe in the values they're professing. But, due to an unethical media mogul, their relationship almost comes to a tragic end. The final scene will have you on the edge of your seat.
7. "It´s A Wonderful Life": Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed. Season notwithstanding, great home-and-hearth film. Hard to watch without wanting to settle down, start a family, and live happily ever after.
Something to read to your significant other.
What a bunch of PC hogwash!
It just occured to me that I won't be with my "significant other" this Valentines. We always have a big fancy dinner here at home with the kids. I make his favorite meat loaf in a heart shaped cake pan. LOL
Isn't that just the way?