Yes, Valentine’s Day really is one of those Hallmark moments, a time when every chocolate factory pumps out confections and sticks them in heart-shaped boxes, upping the price on sentimentality. When florists rub their hands in heartfelt glee and card manufacturers weep in joy at the sales. That’s what Valentine’s Day is. That, and a chance for people to show how much they love each other so they can ignore the feeling for the rest of the year.
You might gather I’m a cynic about these merchant manufactured occasions. We can thank the Victorians for a lot of this, from Valentine’s Day to birth stones to all those events where it’s the thing to do, you know; to give jewelery or flowers or chocolate. Like so many other things, emotions have been manipulated by the need to sell sell sell.
And really, the original St. Valentine was a martyr. We don’t know which Valentine this heartwarming occasion is based on because there were two or three and none of them had anything to do with sentimental love. Chaucer wrote about and fictionalized the day, though it’s possible it was tied to the earlier Roman celebration of Lupercalia for health and fertility. Chaucer lived in the era of troubadours and courtly love, when the idea of a pure and chaste love, of flirting endlessly without consummating the sentiment was the height of courtly deportment. If you think about it, a Christian martyr might be more likely to have died of spiking or crucifixion than of a broken heart.
But true to the gooey feelings of Valentine’s Day, it seems that the tales were fabricated. We know the heart shape is old and has been used for centuries but there is debate of how the shape came about since the human heart has only a vague similarity to the heart symbol. It could have been the silphium seed, a heart-shaped contraceptive plant, or the representation of a woman’s buttocks, vulva or pubic mound. If indeed the representation is one of the latter, then imagine a young man giving his love a card with a valentine, or a woman doing the same. It seems it wouldn’t have been so much the gesture of sentimental love as it would have been of lust. “Here you are, I’m giving myself to you. Here’s my vulva. Let’s have sex.” Hmm, kind of ruins that dewy-eyed view of Valentine’s Day. But then, have people really ever needed a reason to have sex? Excuses yes, but the reason was already there.
I prefer to think people can demonstrate affection, love and lust whenever they choose to. So however you celebrate your Valentine’s Day, whether it be with giving a rose or gorging on the love-replacing chocolate, may it be stress free. 😀
If you happen to be reading this (why, even if you’re not), tell me what you think of my blog. Should I change anything, add or delete something? There are other designs and I’ve been using this one for two years. But perhaps I should tweak it or rearrange elements.
But it’s now time for the Cornucopia List for this week, listing five things for which I am grateful, or that are beautiful, but in some way positive, to negate the dire aspects of weekly media and the state of the world.
- Irises—the flowers, not the eyes. There are small ones, which don’t have a scent, to the large ones, which do. This scent is used to flavor Bombay gin and some perfumes. It’s the reason I love the irises
as my favorite flower. The scent is sweet yet lemony, and the intriguing shape of the bloom is complex and lovely. When I was a kid, we only had the purple ones and the pale yellows. Now there are many more. Yellow irises are also used for filtering pollutants out of water. Last night I stopped to sniff the two-town purple irises. There was also a mauve colored one with rippled edges. This one tends to smell sweeter but it is that tangy lemony scent that I love most.
- Life–this is diverse but in this sense I mean my life. It has had its traumas and tragedies, downfalls and failures. It’s not perfect, not what I thought it would be but it is my life. And I have had successes and love, accomplishments and beauty. No matter how terrible it has been I choose it over the alternative. I would rather experience the hills and valleys of living than live in blissful ignorance. I don’t always live my life to my fullest but I try and I love it dearly.
- Dance–I never tried anything professional with this and discovered a bit too late that I have a natural ability. I still have to work at dance styles but I can put a dance together intuitively and remain graceful. It’s one thing where I don’t usually tend to worry about how people judge me and I just dance with confidence. I bellydance and do freestyle dance where I can be expressive. I took a tango class last year and that took some work as I’m not used to following. It would take many lessons yet to be really good at it but it’s very intriguing with the different moves. It allows me to be truly expressive, joyful and exuberant. I don’t think I could live without dancing.
- Thai food–if I had to be stuck with one food for the rest of my life, it would be Thai food. I am extremely grateful to be able to have this whenever I want. Of course I don’t because that yummy coconut milk is very fattening. And it’s a good thing I can’t make this stuff easily or I’d be three hundred pounds. But the blend of lemon grass, lime, chilies, coconut milk and other secret ingredients makes this a palate pleaser for me. I like complexity in my food.
- Silver–not the price of nor the monetary worth but the look. I like silver jewellery far over gold and find something as pristine and bright about it as I do with water. Silver is shiny and it’s what we as humans love, shiny. I’m grateful for this metal for giving me forms of ornamentation. It can be beaten, soldered, smelted, molded, twisted into a variety of objects and I like a great many of them. And it’s not toxic to wear.
That’s this week’s list. Items or things for which I’m grateful.