Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Power of Love

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, I thought I’d do a little research on this “holiday”:

According to the legendarily-reliable National Geographic, Valentine’s Day is rooted in pagan partying. Evidently, those crazy Romans had an annual festival where men stripped naked, grabbed goat (or dog) skin whips and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility. (You know I'm not making this up.) This according to Professor Noel Lenski of the University of Colorado…and Noel’s da man on all things naughty in Roman Times. This tidbit should make the men of today infinitely more self-assured when you realize that if those Roman guys, with their big ole’ armor and big ole’ horses had concerns about their ability to “spread da seed” (as it were…or was.) then the men of today are golden…how can a Hummer compare to a horse?

When the church became involved, they pegged this debauchery to the legend of St. Valentine. The story goes that in the third century A.D., Roman Emperor Claudius II, seeking to bolster his army, forbade young men to marry. (Author’s note: “Bolster” is defined in the Encarta Dictionary as 1. Encourage something through support or encouragement, or 2. Keep something raised, as in propping something up. I think you’ll agree that old Claudius-Deux had a lot to learn about inter-personal relationships, support and teamwork. This would explain why a short time later, Claudius left Rome, married a goat named Prissy (in a civil ceremony, of course) and founded the very first (and possibly only) Italian/Goat Cheese combo for a local Subway…with um, one convenient location near you.) Valentine it is said, flouted the ban, performing marriages in secret. For his defiance, Valentine was executed in 270 A.D….on February 14th. So, actually…we’re celebrating the day a man was gunned down (or possibly lost his head…who knows?) for trying to do the noblest of duties: helping men , women and goats (who knows?) to hook up with their soulmate….for eva and eva….till death do they part….okay, off with his head.

Today’s relatively tame celebration is expected to generate $14.7 billion in retail sales in the U.S. The average consumer is expected to plunk down $102.50 on gifts, meals and entertainment, according to the US National retail federation survey. A veritable bargain, when you consider that you’re practically guaranteed a little somethin’ somethin’…how come no-one thought to do a survey on that? I’ll bet more people are intimate on this holiday than any of the others….who agrees?

The first Valentine’s Day card was sent in 1415 from France’s Duke of Orleans to his wife when he was a prisoner in the Tower Of London following the Battle of Agincourt. Gee…I wonder what it said? “Happy Valentine’s Day, honey. They made me eat ants for lunch today. Love you! Miss you! Hug the goat for me. Love, Dukie.”

The chocolate-association is tracked back to fifteenth-century Aztec emperor Moctezuma (any relation to Montezuma?), who believed that eating chocolate on a regular basis made him more virile and better able to serve his harem. Again with the debauchery…these ancient guys couldn’t have gotten much work done, with all the orgies, executions and naked festivals they needed to attend.

Finally, Valentine’s Day is about l’amour…and we’ve got 3 distinct brain systems that enable mating and reproduction: Sex drive, romantic love and attachment.

“I think the sex drive evolved to get you out there looking for a range of partners,” says Helen Fisher, anthropologist at Rudgers University. “I think romantic love evolved to enable you to focus your mating energy on just one at a time. And I think attachment evolved to tolerate that person at least long enough to raise a child together as a team.”

Amen, sister.

Straight Guy said...

An all-nude festival of chocolate only sounds good in concept. I was at Hershey Park last summer and those folks definitely needed to stay covered, thank you very much.

Happy Valentines Day, K.

kathryn said...

Straight Guy: Gee. I hadn't thought about the modern-day equivalent to the all-nude festival-esp. people who've participated in eating things like those from your last post. You're right. I think covered up is best.(
Happy Valentines Day to you guys, too.

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