For those of you grumbling over the oooginess of this Hallmark-driven holiday, I share with you a short profile of the day’s history, that I researched back in 2009.

I did a little googling to determine the origins of the event.  I recall from ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ that they were toasting St. Valentine long before Hallmark was a gleam in the greeting card industry’s eye.  So it’s truly NOT just a Hallmark holiday.

Knock me down and color me pink if I didn’t discover that is actually a pagan holiday (gotta love the pagans).  Per the National Geographic news site, it originated as an annual Roman festival called Lupercalia in which naked men spanked young women with goatskin whips in order to increase their fertility.  I’m not sure that a goatskin-whip-spanking would do much for me except piss me off, but to each his own.  Naturally, with the advent of Christianity, this kind of celebratory revel became totally unacceptable (although who knows what the early Christians did behind closed doors) and the date on which the festival occurred became linked with St. Valentine, who was executed on February 14 for performing marriages in secret, defying the ban on soldiers marrying that had been imposed by the emporer Claudius II.  Rather different from whip-snapping naked pagans, but that’s Christianity for you – kind of takes the fun out of a lot of things.

So if you’re lamenting today – or celebrating Single Awareness Day (which has the unfortunate acronym of SAD, although Valentine’s Day has the even less fortunate, though perhaps more apt acronym of VD) – take heart (no pun intended). It’s not all it’s whip-cracked up to be.  And remember that everyone loves someone and everyone is loved by someone.

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(And as a heartfelt postscript, I hope my beloved Christian and Pagan friends take no offense.)