Ironically, the eldest person in our office is writing about, conceivably, the most romantic day of the year, at least according to Hallmark and retail candy/flower sales. Is Valentines Day really a construct of card companies? What is the history, and why on Earth do we celebrate the idea of love on what sometimes feels like a random day in February? History.com tells us that it’s possible to date the origin of this day all the way back to 6 Century B.C. and a festival called Lupercalia, where dogs and goats became sacrificial devices in fertility blessings. Women bore the brunt of what we’d now see as strange and horrific: they actually lined up to be literally hit with the bloody hides and enter a lottery allowing them to live with a particular man for a year!
As if that isn’t shocking enough, NPR and LifeHacker inform us that Pope Gelasius I desired to stop the pagan rituals. Toward that end, he dubbed the formerly bloody day for two Christian martyrs, Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni. The two men coincidentally lost their lives years apart, but on the same date in the 3rd Century A.D. What are the chances? Perfect apparently!
So, how did we get from the bloody fertility rites to the romantic ideas we entertain today? There are several answers to this question. First, and most simply, some think that the two Valentines were actually one man, who was responsible for performing illegal marriage rites for soldiers. Others, Reader’s Digest included, point to the Normans and their celebration of Galatin’s Day. Since “galatin” means “lover” or “gallant,” the idea of romance is introduced both from the actions of St. Valentine and the language of the Norse. Geoffrey Chaucer underscored the romantic aspect of the day with his flowery words written to commemorate the engagement of King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia. In any case, people began to pen their own lovelorn notes by 1415. Among those who scribbled notable verses or letters are Duke of Orleans Charles, “A Farewell to Love,” and Shakespeare’s words embedded in “Hamlet.”
The Industrial Revolution brought a new spin on the practice, ushering in machine-made, mass-produced, straight-from-the-factory-to-the-retail-store cards that could be easily mailed. Hallmark Cards got in on the action in 1913, and Valentine’s Day (Keep that apostrophe, please! The day belongs to an actual person.) was reborn as a commercial holiday.
Chances are that if you’ve stuck with me thus far, you’re beyond the days of decorating lunch bags or shoe boxes and being mad that you must give a card to every classmate or none of them. Here’s guessing you might want some ideas for celebrating with your own loved one. Of course, you can always fall back on the standards: heart-shaped boxes of chocolate, store-bought cards, and red roses (Now we know why red ones signify love, don’t we? It harkens back to those pagan practices!). Or, you can stay with me, and I’ll offer you a couple of alternate ideas.
First of all, there is a plethora, well, at least a handful of Dallas excursions that include chocolate. Woohoo! Let’s go! Choose from these tours:
- My Heart Belongs to Chocolate
- Chocolate in Your Heart
- The Vintage Valentine’s
- Decadent Valentine Dreams Chocolate
- “My Funny Valentine” Dinner and Comedy Show
- Winery, Chocolate, Pizza, and Jazz
- Tacos, Margaritas, and Valentine’s Celebration, or
- Valentine’s Champagne and Chocolate
Tours not your thing? Got a pocketful of cash? How about a flight over the Dallas skyline at sunset and dusk followed by a fabulous meal for two? Or, consider a hot-air balloon flight at sunrise or sunset that comes complete with champagne and photos for your scrapbook. Flying gives you the jitters? Little to no cash in your tattered jeans? Visit TripSavvy (https://www.tripsavvy.com/unique-valentines-day-ideas-1004736) or the City of Dallas website (http://www.dallascitynews.net/six-ways-celebrate-valentines-day-dallas) for more ideas. Prefer Fort Worth to Dallas? Here are two websites for things to do in Cow Town: Brumbaugh’s, an iconic furniture store for over 50 years, has some ideas, (https://brumbaughs.com/6-unique-places-to-go-on-valentines-day-in-fort-worth/) and so does Eventbrite (https://www.eventbrite.com/d/tx–fort-worth/valentines-day-events/. Whatever you do, be glad that bloody rituals have ended and soldiers are no longer confined to the single life. Have fun and enjoy precious time with your loved one.