Valentine Myths & Food by John Copeland

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Valentine Myths & Food by John Copeland

Friends of SMHA, following is a fantastic summation of
Valentine’s Day myth, ritual, & food throughout the ages
By John Copeland
Valentines Day
 
Both here in America and many other parts of the western world, every February 14th, in the name of St. Valentine, many of us send cards, candy, flowers and gifts to our loved ones.  But why do we celebrate his holiday? 
 
We do know that in ancient times mid-February was associated with love and fertility.  Ancient Athenians knew it as the month of Gamelion and the time to celebrate the marriage of the Greek Gods – Zeus and Hera.  In Greek mythology Zeus was the supreme ruler of the ancient Greek Gods while Hera was the Goddess of women, marriage and childbirth. 
 
Eight hundred years before the creation of Valentine’s Day, ancient Romans celebrated the Ides of February as the festival of Lupercalia to honor the Roman Gods of fertility – Lupercus and Faunus and the legendary founders of Rome – Romulus and Remus. Have you noticed, ancient Romans are involved in nearly every holiday we observe? They conquered the known world and knew how to have a good time doing it, I guess.
 
One of the unique customs of Feast of Lupercalia was a “love lottery.”  In the days of the Roman Empire, young boys and girls lived a strictly separated lives.  During Lupercalia  all the young marriageable girls would place a chit of their name in a big urn.  Each young man would draw out a name of a girl from the urn and became paired with her for the rest of the year. Quite often, the paired couple fell in love and married.

Needless to say, the love lottery remained popular even in early Christian times.  In an effort to end these pagan festivities, Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change in the lottery. Instead of the names of young women, the urn contained the names of saints. Both men and women were allowed to draw from the urn, and the goal was to emulate the ways of the saint they drew during the rest of the year.  This was really a cultural wet blanket to the young men and women of Rome and the Pope’s idea quickly fell out of favor.  So I guess, in the end, his idea worked.
 
Pope Gelasius next looked for a suitable patron saint of love to take the place of Lupercalia.  He found Valentine and although the new saints lottery was not popular, the mid-February holiday in commemoration of St. Valentine was still used by Roman men to seek the affection of women.  It became a tradition for men to give women they were attracted to handwritten messages of affection, containing Valentine’s name.
 
On this Valentine’s Day are you looking for love? Looking to keep the love you’ve found? Looking to reunite with a lost love? Being a romantic at heart, I say, Look no further!
 
I have searched through my library and come up with a few surefire techniques from our ancestors for finding and attracting love. 
 
To attract a man, hold a peeled apple under your arm until the fruit becomes saturated with your scent; then present it to your lover to inhale. (It worked in Shakespeare’s day.)
 
Think of the one you love while you swallow a four-leaf clover, and your love will be returned.
 
Swallow the heart of a wild duck.
 
Upon hearing the first coo of a dove in the spring, take off your left stocking and look in the heel of it. You will find a hair the color of your true love’s hair. 
 
Hide the dried tongue of a turtledove in a girl’s room; she will love you forever.
 
Put a symbol of your affection in a bouquet. For example, if you want to show your loved one how strong your love is, give him or her an oak tree. OK, perhaps an oak leaf or two will do just as well. 
 
Want to flatter your honey? Hand him or her some fennel. 
 
To prove that your love is forever, surprise your valentine with red salvia.
 
Hard boil an egg, cut it in half, discard the yolk, and fill the egg halves with salt. Sit on something you’ve never sat on before, eat the egg, and walk to bed backwards. You will dream of your future mate.
 
Pull a hair from the head of a girl you like, and she will love you.
 
Roast hummingbird hearts, grind them into a powder, and sprinkle it on your beloved.
 
Okay, maybe we should try something different.  Hopefully, your prospective lover hasn’t had you arrested at this point for pestering them will disgusting bird innards.
 
Since the beginning of time, people have gone above and beyond to try the latest love potion. The very word, aphrodisiac, comes from the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite, who has inspired cultures throughout the ages to achieve her legendary heights of delight. History is full of stories of ordinary people using bizarre stimulants for their love live: powder from the horns of rhinos, bat blood mixed with whiskey, crocodile dung . . . you get the idea.  Do any of these so-called aphrodisiacs have any real effect? Read on and you’ll be surprised. . .
 
Pliny the Elder recommended hippopotamus snout and hyena eyes.
 
Horace touted dried marrow and liver.
 
In Elizabethan times, prunes were so highly regarded as aphrodisiacs that they were served for free in brothels.
 
Casanova championed oysters.
 
Napoleon treasured truffles.
 
The Maharajah of Bikaner ingested crushed diamonds.
 
Okay, I know this getting a little outrageous.  But, do love potions work, you ask?
 
Well, in 1989, the US Food and Drug Administration banned advertisers from promoting pills or potions because testing had shown that none worked no matter what the contents—whether fennel or dried beetle bodies.
 
Any that appeared to work did so only because the user believed they would—the stimulant lay only in the users’ mind. In other words, it’s the imagination that creates its own exciting possibilities and the body that leaps forward to fulfill the fantasies.
 
Here’s the Last Stimulant You’ll Ever Need
 
Love is the most magnificent of aphrodisiacs. Although it is certainly no more easier to get a hold of than some of these potions, it’s a heck of a lot cheaper and more environmentally friendly.
 
And if your out there looking for love – stop. Many experts agree that searching for the perfect mate is doomed. Be flexible and commit to the unknown. 
 
However, if you must look, then carry the heart of an owl with you at all times.
 
A Happy Mirthful and Love-filled Valentine’s Day to you all.
___________________
John Copeland
Dr. Eric P. Dahlstrom, D.C., L.Ac.
Santa Monica Healing Arts
Providing Chiropractic Care and Acupuncture in Santa Monica since 1999 (http://santamonicahealingarts.com). Check out our 5-star Review on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz/santa-monica-healing-arts-santa-monica) or find us on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Santa-Monica-Healing-Arts)

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