Thursday, February 14, 2008

holidays and birthdays

Happy Valentine's Day!

There are different stories on the exact origination of the holiday, but they kind of all gel and this is my favorite version.

St. Valentine lived in the third century beneath the emporer Claudius. During those days, the Romans still had vestiges of their gods and goddesses, and February 14th had been a day to pay homage to Juno. But at this time, Christianity was growing like wildfire. Valentine was a young priest, and while Claudius wanted his populace of young men to remain single so that they could easily join his army for the greater glory of Rome, Valentine was in love with young folks being in love with one another. Ban on marriage or no, he would secretly perform the wedding rites. Naturally, some peeved person--maybe a broken hearted or spurned enemy?--betrayed Valentine, and the soldiers marched in upon him during one of his candlelit and forbidden ceremonies.

St. Valentine was hauled off to prison, tried and convicted, of treason against the state. It was ancient Rome, remember, Claudius could pretty much do so what he wanted. If there was no law to fit a crime, the crime was twisted to fit a law.

Valentine was sentenced to death. On February 14th. Before that day, on it, and after, young people, grateful to the kindly man who so understood the nature of love, brought flowers and candles and honored his existence and his death. And throughout the years, the custom flourished. This is a very cool thing--we tend to get caught up in the bad. Valentine managed to bring out the best of humanity.

Time has been adjusted often throughout the centuries, there is this calendar, and that calendar. So, as Shakespeare might put it--What's in an exact day? Now, Valentine's Day is February 14th, by our calendar, and Hallmark is banking on it!

Last night, we celebrated my nephew, DJ's, birthday. He was born on February 13th. I remember when Vickie was pregnant, we all waited to see if he would be a Valentine's baby, and hm, was that a good thing, or a bad thing? Would his birthday get lost in the holiday?

The question didn't matter. DJ was born on the 13th. Now, the 13th was am important day for my sister and brother-in-law. They'd had a huge church wedding planned for August 14th way back when, and both families were rushing around, my mother was sewing pearls on her dress, by dad had negotiated with the Shriners (he was one) for the hall, and so on, and so on. In the midst of all this, they forgot to get a wedding license. Back then, in the state of Florida, they needed three days. Two late, only two days to go. So, on Friday the 13th, the two of them quickly packed up and jumped on a plane to Georgia. There, the two were married in a civil ceremony, she in a black dress, he in the quickest most decent outfit he could throw to gether. This was so that the priest could marry them in the church the next day, and all the guests could come, the dress could be worn, and the food heading toward the Shriner's hall would not go bad.

We all have our special days. Hallmark just doesn't know about all of them!

At any rate, Happy Valentine's Day!

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