February is an interesting month. Cold winter is still with us, we all pretend to have warm hearts for one day, a furry animal that we worship predicts the weather, football has FINALLY ended, and we are only in to the second month of a long year.
February has a great deal of significance in my life. First there’s Valentine’s Day. When did this particular “holiday” become such a pressure filled experience? I watched commercial after commercial proclaiming that the way to WIN Valentine’s Day was to buy these roses, this diamond, this card, this candy. Why do we have to WIN Valentine’s Day? Are we such a competitive and angry society that nothing can happen just because it comes from the heart and soul? Perhaps it comes from the ancient roots of this day which is pretty graphic and disturbing.
This is from an NPR article dated 2/13/11 by Arnie Seipel:
From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics "were drunk. They were naked," says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine's Day.
Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine's Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, "It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn't stop it from being a day of fertility and love."
From that we got chocolate covered strawberries and the Hallmark Company who banks millions on making people feel guilty if they don’t shower the one they love with love. I actually have no words.
Valentine’s Day for the past 33 years in my world has been pretty much ho hum. I’m married to a CPA who puts his game face on on January 2nd and doesn’t look up until April 16th. Nothing else matters in the world during Tax Season. So, if I get a distracted card, not the same one I got last year, then we are WINNING Valentine’s Day. I learned early in our marriage to not take this personally. The man works very hard. Why should I expect him to be on point for one silly day? Eight months out of the year, he’s a pretty great guy.
And then there are the birthdays. Both of my daughters, Darcy and Sunny, were born in February, ten years apart with two different fathers. I’m sure there are all kinds of hidden meanings that can be discerned, but it’s just how it happened. And then, when Darcy was preparing to give birth to the younger grandboy, the doctor determined that she needed to be induced, so she chose to have him on Sunny’s birthday. So, for the past eleven years we’ve had a double celebration on that day.
The year that Parker, the grandboy, turned one was Sunny’s 21st birthday. We got a cake with a baby bottle and a beer bottle on it. I never said my family was normal. And, of course, pretending that Sunny waited until she was 21 to drink was also laughable. But it was a very cute cake.
So, happy February everyone. It’s a short month but has all kinds of opportunities stuffed into those 28 days. No goat sacrifices or beatings or martyrs. Just finding a way to have a warm heart in the midst of winter and sharing it with someone else with no pressure or expectation of WINNING. Just because.
Glenda Stansbury is Marketing Director of InSight Books and Co-Founder of InSight Institute Certified Celebrant Program. She is also a speaker, a trainer, and an observer of life, and one of Doug Manning’s adorable and talented daughters. You may email Glenda at OrdersAndInfo@InSightBooks.com.