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Blame the Romans for Valentine’s Day

Flight of Fancy column, by Elaine Rix-Clarke, Friday, February 14, 2020

After what seems the longest January known to man we find ourselves at Valentine’s Day, so a very happy Valentine’s Day to you.

You can guarantee the rest of the year will quite literally fly by.

Flight of fancy column, by Elaine Rix-Clark. Picture: Amy Shamblen Unsplash
Flight of fancy column, by Elaine Rix-Clark. Picture: Amy Shamblen Unsplash

Anyway back to Valentine’s Day, I took to the internet to find inspiration to create a culinary feast, a very easy culinary feast as my abilities in the kitchen are rather limited.

The majority of the wonderful recipes contained fish which, sadly for me, is a huge no no. I am allergic to seafood and a trip to A&E is never a great way to finish a planned romantic evening.

I have made the decision to purchase a dine in meal for two from a well-known high street store, which will obviously not contain fish and save myself a load of time spent in the kitchen.

Whilst plugging around the internet looking for inspirational recipes and gift ideas I came across various articles about the early origins of Valentine’s Day.

I must admit I thought it was a commercial creation probably by a card/chocolate manufacturer.

I have read the articles with relish. It seems to have all started back in ancient Rome. At that time it was a three-day event, February 13-15, with a feast called Lupercalia.

These romance seeking Romans were probably drunk and naked. The male folk would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. Naked young ladies would willingly line up in the streets waiting to be hit with blood soaked skins from the goats, by the naked men folk, because they believed it would make them fertile. If the young lady was already pregnant they thought it would bring them healthy babies.

Then came the romance lottery, a bit like an early Love Island. So the girls and boys had set there stalls out and shown prospective suitors their wares, at least they didn’t need to leave anything to imagination. The young ladies put their names into a big urn and the young men drew out a name.

They were then coupled up for the duration of the festival. If the match was successful it could lead to marriage, others could decide to have a conscious un-coupling.

I wonder what the birth rate was like in the November. I can almost hear the village gossips saying “well we know what she got up to at the festival”.

The ancient Romans executed two men both called Valentine both on February 14, but different years. The Church honoured their martyrdom with the celebration of St Valentine’s Day.

Over the years, the day became more recognisable to us today with Valentines card being massed produced from around 1913.

I am very grateful the celebrations have moved on from the Lupercalia festival because we really do not have the weather to be frolicking outside being slapped with strips of faux fur dipped in fake blood (or do we!) and I secretly enjoy the flowers and chocolates I hope my husband has sent. However you spend it though, enjoy it!

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