There are many things today that are hugely popular but nobody really knows what their origins in history are. This gives people the wonderful opportunity for their creativity to run amok and cook up their own theories which will put them on the path to greatness by amassing huge number of likes and "waw, u r gr8" comments on Facebook, which despite popular belief will not get anyone laid. Speaking of which, Valentine's Day is one of those things whose origins nobody is sure about. People's own theories for the origin of Valentine's Day include traditions of various St.Valentines are cited by the romantically inclined head-in-the-cloud-dwellers, while more "rationally" oriented people swear by Roman fertility festivals. Since it is free-for-all in any case, I am going to add my own speculative theory to the heap. This is not about the origin of Valentine's Day but about one of the traditions - The exchange of flowers and roses. Please do not be mistaken, this is not like one of those hoax stories we see every now and then which were first circulating by mails and now through Facebook. And this is not a real theory, I DO NOT want anyone to believe it, unlike those who spread lies about freedom fighters being hung on February 14th.
Have a Happy Fertility and Desire Day!
Like Newton got that question about gravity, this doubt hit me yesterday: "Why are flowers and especially Roses used to express love?" (No, a bunch of roses did not fall on my head) Why isn't anything else (cheaper) like a basket of potatoes or a handful of grass used to express love? Using my fertile imagination and knack of coming up with laughable theories, I did some deep thinking and of course, found all the answers in a flash!
If you had paid attention in Biology class, you would remember that flowers are actually the reproductive organs of plants. Yes, the world's most colorful genitalia, if you want to put it that way. Most ancient human societies (including Indians) worshipped coupling organs as that what gives life and as symbols of fertility since everything those days was associated with producing more and more people. This was especially prevalent among the Pagans who are the ancestors of Europeans before they converted into Christianity. Since flowers are reproductive organs too, some more prudish cultures must have used them for indirect worship of coupling and fertility instead of, you know. Even after Paganism was replaced by the more conservative Christianity, flowers remained objects associated with desire and fertility. After being handed down for centuries, these turned into affection and love. But why the rose? I have an explanation for this too. It is not the rose, it is the color red. How many other deep red flowers can you find? And red of course represents desire, passion, flame etc. The "meanings" of all other colored roses are of course, creations of the holiday card mafia. There might be another reason too, for the rose being the object of desire and romance. Take a rose and look down at it from the top. Does it resemble something? Remind you of something else? Yeah! There you are! :D So, when you are handing a red rose to your flame, remember that you might be handing over an ancient symbol of desire and fertility, which would communicate more of "I am fertile" than "I Love You".
History of Valentine's Day - St. Valentine and Arranged Marriages?
The "tradition" of expressing your love on the 14th of February is said to have come down from the martyrdom of the Christian saint St.Valentine, who was killed and burned at stake by the Romans on February 14th in the 3rd Century, during the 400-long year pogrom and persecution of Christians by the Roman Empire. But, however, no one including the church are clear on anything about St.Valentine apart from that one of them was martyred on February 14th. In fact, there were 14 martyred Valentines in all, as it was quite a common name in ancient times, and no one is sure which is the Valentine everyone is referring to.
The Facebook "tradition" doing the rounds says that one of these dude named St.Valentine used to help couples in love get married during the Roman times. Apparently the Roman Government was against love marriages or something like that. So the Roman govt was something like a really huge, powerful Khap Panchayat (or "Indian Society" in general), and St.Valentine paid the price for crossing them by getting himself honor-killed. And this calls for a stop of the nonsense right here. In reality, Valentine's Day is an "invented" festival by shrewd business people who saw all the tremendous money that is to be made out of the concept of love.
And please, none of them actually played cupid and conducted marriages in the 3rd century. All that is the figment of imagination of the mail-forwarding mafia. If you apply a bit of a rational brain, such intricate details simply cannot be handed down for 1800 years without significant distortion, and social structures of the Romans of the day did not include celibacy and arranged marriages. That is an Indian invention. It was pretty much free there, you want to get it on with someone, you just did it. They didn't have multinational greeting card and gift companies so they didn't have to have special days to express their desires and feelings. But what they did have was huge brothels and common baths and open toilets where people of both sexes had baths and took a dump together. These people wouldn't have any trouble if they wanted to get married!
Lupercalia was a festival of fertility celebrated in ancient Rome from February 13 to 15. People have tried to bind Valentine's Day to this festival, but there is no historical link to this. Lupercalia was more of a gory sacrificial festival with rituals of lashes and beatings and blood, rather than one of romance and roses.
Based on existing historical evidence, the real "inventor" of Valentine's Day, though unwittingly, is thought to be Geoffrey Chaucer, the "Father of English Literature". The first connection ever made historically between the concepts of "Valentine" and "Romance" has been attributed to him. But only that he must have been referring to May 2 as Valentine's Day, when his King Richard II got married to Anne of Bohemia. May 2 was the death day of another bishop who was also named Valentine. Since Chaucer was something of the last owrd in Englishg Literature those days, people must have taken up his linking of "Valentine" to love and romance. Later, someone must have made this connection of romance, Valentine and February 14, the then feast of St.Valentine, and the modern custom was born accentuated by commercialization.
Some Thoughts on Love and Love-Days.
I am not or never against anyone celebrating any kind of day they want to, but I am totally against hypocrisy. Valentine's day, a day for love, looks good as a concept, but unlike other days, love is not something that has to be observed as a ritual for one day and forgetting about it later. If you are really in love, any other day is as good as February 14, may it for expressing, proclaiming or showing your love and affection! You really do not have to wait for Hallmark holidays or any excuse for that matter, to observe anything. Show your love everyday, gift her a rose every day, surprise her with a sudden flower picked off a flowering shrub by the way side, write her little poems that show how mad you are about her, every day, any month! It is much more cheaper and much more fun! And don't wait for some corporate behemoth to order you to "express your feelings" by proclaiming how fertile you are!
Have a Happy, Safe and Fertile Valentine's Day.