Ah, love, isn't it grand? Historians have traced the origin of Valentine's Day to the Roman Empire. The Romans held a celebration every Feb. 14 to honor Juno the Queen of Roman Gods. The Romans regarded Juno as the Goddess of women and marriage. On the following day, the Festival of Lupercalia was celebrated to honor the gods Lupercus and Faunus.
The custom of the feast was to bring otherwise strictly supervised and separated young boys and girls together. The names of the young girls were placed in jars and each boy got to pick a name and they were paired up for the duration of the festival.
Many of these pairings resulted in long and fruitful marriages. While the feast of Lupercalia set the stage for Valentine's Day, a young and courageous priest, Valentine, has become the international symbol of love and romance. It is believed that during the reign of Claudius II, the army had become decimated through many bloody campaigns and it became difficult to get new recruits.
The emperor believed that young men with wives and families were less likely to join the army and he eventually made it illegal for young men eligible for the army to marry. The priest, Valentine continued to perform marriage ceremonies secretly in spite of the new law and at his own peril.
Eventually, Valentine was caught, savagely beaten and put to death on Feb. 14, 270 AD. Valentine was made a Saint and Pope Gelasius declared Feb. 14, St Valentine's Day.
The popularity of Valentine's Day is ubiquitous. Valentine's Day is celebrated in countries across seven continents. Each year in the United States, more than one billion Valentine's Day cards are given to teachers, mothers, girlfriends, boyfriends, children wives, husbands and yes, pets.
Just over 5 percent of Valentine's Day cards are sent to pets. Worldwide, more than 50 million roses are purchased and given for Valentine's Day each year, 73 percent of the flowers purchased on Valentine's Day are purchased by men and 27 percent are purchased by women.
For some, Valentine's Day may have been their first brush with love. When I was a kid, they used to call it a "crush." That word as a romantic reference seems to have disappeared from the lexicon. New references include, "hooking up" or "friends with benefits."
To an old fellow like me, these new references ring hollow and decidedly unromantic. In Roman times, it was the custom that the type of bird that a girl saw on Valentine's Day would for tell what kind of husband a girl would marry. If a girl saw a sparrow on Valentine's Day, she would marry a "man lacking wealth."
My wife and I have been together for 28 years and on the Valentine's Day before I met my wife she must have seen an entire flock of sparrows.
My mother frequently told me that I would meet a nice girl in church and she was right. Twenty eight years ago as I sat in church I saw a pretty woman a few pews ahead of me. Though I only had a glimpse of my future wife it was enough. I found out who she was and called her up with my best line that fateful Sunday.
"Today is your lucky day, how about dinner?" Surprisingly, she said yes.
Twenty-eight years later, and at the risk of sounding corny, she is still my Valentine. It's Valentine's Day, a day to be romantic, sickeningly mushy and sweet.
It's okay to be a little or a lot over the top. Give flowers, candy or if you can afford it jewelry; women just love jewelry. I have come to believe that women love the jewelry that you give them because it reminds them that you think that they are as valuable as gold and as precious as jewels. I have found that some of the jewelry that I have given my wife has given her a reminder of how much I care the other 364 days of the years when the circumstances of our relationship might not be so romantic.
On a final note, remember, the French didn't just invent French Fries; they also invented the language of love. Feel free to use the following phase as an expression of love this Valentine's Day. Jet'aime, Tu es ma joie de vivre. The English translation is, "I love you, you are the joy of my life." Some of my readers will ask what does Valentine's Day have to do with children or families a frequent focus of my column. I believe that the best gift that you can give to your children and family is a happy and meaningful relationship with your life partner.
Remember all kids count.
Reach the writer at wildblue.net