St. Valentine’s day is an emotive day, for all kind of reasons. For some it is a day on which they pledge their love for their beloved, showering them with romantic verse, red roses and romantic dinners. For others, it is a gross act of commercialism invented by marketing companies to extract your hard earned cash – “Valentine’s day was invented for suckers!” they shout.
In our house we are terribly old fashioned and romantic about the whole thing. We make little apology for this – we were after all High School sweethearts and are now enjoying our seventeenth year together expecting our second child. We are lucky and blessed and don’t take it for granted; although we tell each other every day we love one another (as we do for all our family) Valentine’s day provides a day in the year when we can ritualistically demonstrate our love.
|Katie M John, author of the|
Amazon UK bestselling series
The Knight Trilogy
I’m a “sucker” for tradition and ritual and I’m fascinated by how such cultural traditions are established and especially one such as Valentine’s day which has stood the test of time for thousands of years. (Yes, cynics – it wasn’t invented in the 1980’s by an American card house!)
Valentine’s day is linked to the Martyred Saint Valentinous; a man who, despite incredible risk to himself, continued to secretly marry Christian couples under the reign of the Lord of Anti-Love, Emperor Claudius. Believing married men to make useless soldiers he decreed that all men should remain single. It didn’t end well for poor old Valentinous, he was beaten and stoned, and when his body refused to give in to death, he was finally beheaded.
Valentious, St Valentine, as we have grown to know him, had his own feast day decreed by the Catholic Church on February 14th; the day of his death. It was a modest Saint Day until in the 1700’s, the church fed up with people clinging to the old Pagan ways and festivals, saw the opportunity to mask the Festival of Lupercalia by turning St Valentine’s day into a much jollier affair.
Lupercalia was an ancient festival celebrated from 13th to 15th of February and like many spring rites was concerned with the celebration of purity and fertility. Lupercalia translates as The Festival of The Wolf – a highly energetic and physical festival which was first celebrated in the rural areas of Greece and an equivalent festival in Italy. It was linked to the celebration of Pan, the God of the Forests and it was thought that various rites would lead to ensured fertility of the village women.
You can imagine why this overtly sexualised festival which celebrated the fertility of beasts and man did not sit easy with Catholic tastes and why they felt the need to ‘Romanticise’ the whole thing. The romanticisation of St. Valentine’s day was helped along by the Renaissance Love poets who adopted the Catholic St as The Patron Saint of Lovers and to Geoffrey Chaucer who linked St. Valentine’s day as the day when the spring birds chose their mates.
By the 1700’s hearts, roses and sweet treats had replaced the wild fertility rituals and goat and wolf skins of the Lupercalia Festival. The first Valentine’s cards were created and the exchange of gifts established.
Sara and I understand the romance of the wolves and forests. The deeply rich association with nature and love, the sensuality of the landscape and of the beasts within it; that’s why we choose to write our dark romances set within these ancient tropes. There is of course sill space for cards, chocolates and roses, but maybe this year add a walk through the twilight forest to your romantic agenda – and unleash the wolves within ;-)
Well said, Katie! Although my wolves are be slightly more likely to eat people than romance them, of course. Haha! ;)
You can find Katie on Twitter as @KnightTrilogy and grab The Forest of Adventures on Amazon!