February 14, 2010

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Happy Valentine's Day

Welcome to another day in my life. Today is Sunday and Valentine's Day so I hope you are having a safe and great weekend so far.

I am still resting up after my recent move from Jacksonville to Fort Lauderdale area. But at least most of the unpacking is done now. Been sleeping a lot but I guess my body needed it after the move.

I need to say thank you to all of you who have been sending cards, messages and notes. I can not begin to tell you how much they have touched my heart to know so many people care about me. I feel truly blessed to have all of you in my life and wanted to make sure you know how appreciative I am.

I know Valentine's Day is a very happy time for some, especially if you have a someone special in your life. But I also know for others it can be a very lonely time. For me, Valentine's Day is mixed. See I was diagnosed as having GRID (what HIV was originally called) on Valentine's Day in 1982. So while I can appreciate the romance of the day, Valentine's Day also holds bad memories for me. I was told I would not live to see my twentieth birthday which was only six weeks later.

If you are single, I encourage you to go do something special for yourself. Whether you go do something you enjoy or do something that makes you feels good. Just because you are not with someone, does not mean you can not make the day special for yourself. Call a close friend and catch up. Have a day of pampering yourself. Just do something to remind yourself how much you love yourself.

If you do have a special someone then enjoy the day doing something with or for each other. Get creative. It does not have to cost a lot of money to make someone feel special. You can make a homemade card, make the person dinner or something else that person enjoys. I am a very hard person to buy for since if I want something I usually go out and get it myself. So I told my special someone just to make me an Italian dinner which he is doing from scratch which I appreciate especially since I am not a great cook myself.

But what is the history of Valentine's Day? I must admit I did not know myself so I did a little research recently.

Roman Roots

The history of Valentine's Day is obscure, and further clouded by various fanciful legends. The holiday's roots are in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration commemorated annually on February 15. Pope Gelasius I recast this pagan festival as a Christian feast day circa 496, declaring February 14 to be St. Valentine's Day. Valentines Galore

Which St. Valentine this early pope intended to honor remains a mystery: according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, there were at least three early Christian saints by that name. One was a priest in Rome, another a bishop in Terni, and of a third St. Valentine almost nothing is known except that he met his end in Africa. Rather astonishingly, all three Valentines were said to have been martyred on Feb. 14.

Most scholars believe that the St. Valentine of the holiday was a priest who attracted the disfavor of Roman emperor Claudius II around 270. At this stage, the factual ends and the mythic begins. According to one legend, Claudius II had prohibited marriage for young men, claiming that bachelors made better soldiers. Valentine continued to secretly perform marriage ceremonies but was eventually apprehended by the Romans and put to death. Another legend has it that Valentine, imprisoned by Claudius, fell in love with the daughter of his jailer. Before he was executed, he allegedly sent her a letter signed "from your Valentine." Probably the most plausible story surrounding St. Valentine is one not focused on Eros (passionate love) but on agape (Christian love): he was martyred for refusing to renounce his religion.

In 1969, the Catholic Church revised its liturgical calendar, removing the feast days of saints whose historical origins were questionable. St. Valentine was one of the casualties. Chaucer's Love Birds

It was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. According to UCLA medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly, author of Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine, it was Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance.

In 1381, Chaucer composed a poem in honor of the engagement between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. As was the poetic tradition, Chaucer associated the occasion with a feast day. In "The Parliament of Fowls," the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine's Day are linked:

For this was on St. Valentine's Day,
When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.

Tradition of Valentine's Cards

Over the centuries, the holiday evolved, and by the 18th century, gift-giving and exchanging hand-made cards on Valentine's Day had become common in England. Hand-made valentine cards made of lace, ribbons, and featuring cupids and hearts eventually spread to the American colonies. The tradition of Valentine's cards did not become widespread in the United States, however, until the 1850s, when Esther A. Howland, a Mount Holyoke graduate and native of Worcester, Mass., began mass-producing them. Today, of course, the holiday has become a booming commercial success. According to the Greeting Card Association, 25% of all cards sent each year are valentines.

So now you know the rest of the story. I hope you have a great day. Drop me a line and let me know how your Valentine's Day went.

Until we meet again; here's wishing you health, hope and happiness.

big bear hug,

Daddy Dab