Valentine's Day

There are many competing ideas about how February 14th became associated with romantic love. Many scholars claim that the first association between the Feast of St. Valentine and romance occurs in Chaucer.  In Roman times, February 14th marked the celebration of Lupercalia, a festival associated with the lupine mother of the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. It is widely understood that in the early Christian church, many of the feast days associated with the saints, like St. Valentine, were assigned to days that already had significance to the local population. In many cases, these very early saints then became associated with the festivals. This may account for why St. Valentine, and early martyr of the church, became associated with romantic love as his feast day happened to fall on an existing holiday celebrating fertility.

Whatever the case, there is a certain poetry in the fact that a popular holiday that celebrates romantic love falls during the coldest part of the year. It is significant that our ancestors did not choose say, the vernal equinox to celebrate romantic love, with its obvious associations to rebirth and new beginnings. Instead, they chose a day that preceded the start of spring by over a month. Even in distant human history, when our lives were even more obviously dependent on the whims of the seasons, we opted to assign deep creative significance to romantic love. In the ancient worldview, it is love that must be venerated well in advance of the feast celebrating the birth of a new season. Love is the harbinger of bigger things, of new beginnings, a flicker of warmth in the dead of winter.