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Hallmark Day

February 5, 2008


EDIT: I have just been informed by a helpful commenter that the information I based the following post on is wrong.  I got lazy and didn’t fact check and I posted and commented on erroneous information.  Too bad, really, because I was looking forward to proposing a “traditional” valentine’s day event to my wife.  Wink wink.  Anyway, I’ll do some more research later and post the results.  In the meantime, I’ll just remind myself and all you kids in tv land that assuming makes an ass out of you and me.  And now to my shamefully wrong post:


V-Day is coming up. No, not this v-day (although that will be shortly after), this one. My partner and I generally refer to Valentine’s day as “Hallmark day.” I did a little research, though, and found that it wasn’t always this commercialized. In fact, in Roman times:

To begin the festival, Roman priests, would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips would make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D. The Roman ‘lottery’ system for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Trust the Christians to break up a fun party. To be honest, getting slapped with blood-soaked hide sounds more exciting than most Valentine’s day festivities, and being romantically paired via lottery sounds like some parties I went to in the 70s.

In the past, the wife and I have somewhat celebrated Valentine’s day. For our first V-day, I was still in high school and not out yet, so the wife brought a male friend to my school and had him hand me some silky boxers and chocolate. A couple of years ago we stayed home and watched Sex and the City all night, ordering and then sending back some Chinese take-out. This year, I actually would like to celebrate. I don’t know, I just the two of us need a holiday. She is adamantly against it, though, so I’ll have to be stealthy – arrange a non-Valentine’s treat for an alternate day or something. Maybe get some bloody strips of hide, a bowl full of keys…

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Rich permalink
    February 5, 2008 4:28 pm

    Hi, stumbled into your page via womensspace.

    Just wanted to say that “legend” was invented about 10 years ago by Christians on the internet. There’s absolutely no historical evidence for the “lottery” claim. That wasn’t part of the Lupercalia, which took place on the 15th, and has no demonstrable ties to Valentine’s day. It’s just something some jackass made up in an email. And every year christians who read the email write in the “history” as a warning to op-eds of their local newspapers. And then the following year the newspaper prints it as truth. Lie enough times and it sticks.

  2. February 5, 2008 7:12 pm

    Wow, I guess I fell for it. Jackasses with email are a real social problem, I think. Worse are so called skeptics who lazily post without fact-checking. Thank you for correcting me.

  3. Veronica permalink
    February 6, 2008 12:40 am

    awww that would have been fun change your partner every year, until your married, how awesome is that!!!!

  4. Dr. Jim permalink
    February 6, 2008 5:25 pm

    You could still smack her upside the head with the haunches of a Bull. Enkidu did that to Ishtar in the Epic of Gilgamesh, and that is way older than 10 years! OF course, Ishtar killed him for it…

    OK, not a traditional Valentine’s pressy–not that i’m an expert on that kind of thing, observes the divorced middle aged guy.

  5. Jake permalink
    March 11, 2008 8:02 pm

    Just stumbled upon your site through carnival of the godless. I like what I’ve read of your writing so far (haven’t gotten through it all yet- you have so much).

    I ruin the romance for my wife every year on Valentine’s day. I’ll buy her flowers she’ll love and then I’ll complain about wasting the money on them as they slowly die over the next several days. I’ll get her jewerly and then complain about the diamond trade or why women shouldn’t have to wear jewelry just to feel special or to fit in.

    I do this with every holiday now that I think about it. I guess I’m as emotional as a robot with a low battery.

    I guess I just don’t need holidays to appreciate what I have and I don’t feel the need to prove my love on designated days.

    I respect people and history but I loathe tradition and ritual and will not be a slave to them.

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