Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Origins of Valentine's Day

Okay, so what's with the little fat guy with the bow and arrow? 

Well, by now you know the drill. 
Many present day Western holidays can be traced back to the Greeks. 

Somewhere along the line the Romans borrowed those ideas and not long after, the Christian Church changed their meaning to put a "holy" spin on them.

They became known as holy days--- holidays. 
St. Valentine's Day is no exception.

Snap zoom back to Greece. 

EROS - son of Chaos


Eros is the god of love. 

He was not only exotic he was erotic. He was the son of Chaos “the original primeval emptiness of the universe.”  (Imagine what that title would look like on a business card.) 

Later tradition held that Eros was the son of Aphrodite; goddess of sexuality (root word for aphrodisiac)

In this version the paternity is a little fuzzy. 
His pops was either Zeus (Bill Gates), Ares - the god of war (Donald Rumsfeld) or Hermes, the Divine messenger of the Gods (and one hell of a scarf maker.)  

Ares --the God of War (not to be confused with the astrological sign of the ram Aries) always traveled with an entourage that included his sister Eris, and her sons Phobos, Metus, Demios and Pallor . 

In English his homies are: Discord, Panic, Fear, Dread, and Terror.  (Phobos gives us the word for “fear of”: phobia. Pallor’s terror makes us “pale”.)

Eros had two sidekicks: Pothos and Himeros (Longing and Desire). Isn’t it always longing and desire that gets humans into trouble with things erotic?
Eros getting younger...
Eros was an adult but through the ages he was depicted younger and younger until he appeared as  a cherub-like infant. Kind of a fat, horny little butterball.
And younger.

In many illustrations Eros is shown blindfolded because, of course, love is blind. Eros was armed with both darts and arrows. Once wounded by their magic tips the victim will either fall uncontrollably in love or have total disinterest in the first person they see.

Before we go on a Roman holiday let’s swing by India for a second.
In another one of those one-world connections, there is a Hindu love god called Kama (as in Sutra.) 

He also carries a bow and arrow. He isn’t winged but flies on the back of a parrot or a sparrow and is accompanied by a honeybee, which symbolizes love’s sweetness and its sting. For some bizarre reason in modern day India young Indians have taken a liking to Cupid over Kama and send each other Valentines, instead of Kamas. Go figure.

Okay back to Europe.

Along come the Romans.  They swipe most of the Greek gods and give them new names. Aphrodite becomes Venus (Venus is the root word for venereal).  Ares the God of war becomes Mars (Mars is the root word for "martial" i.e. warlike.)

Eros becomes Cupid, son of Venus and Mercury the Roman messenger of the gods.

Since Mercury was kind of a Divine Federal Express service he has become the patron god of the Business world. You’ll see him all over the place here in the capital of Capitalism. 

You’ll see him and his little winged hat on the front of Grand Central Terminal.


You’ll also see a stylized version of his helmet as ornaments jutting out from the Chrysler Building.

This god not only got his own day of the week--Wednesday (or in Spanish Miercoles, in french Mercredi) you'll even find this pagan god next to "In God we trust" on our money.

Okay, enough mercury madness--I'm becoming mad as a hatter. (there's a connection there if you want to look it up)

So Cupid gets married to Psyche.

Cupid leading Psyc
Psyche translates to "Soul" and is the root word that Sigmund Freud gave to his new science, which he called "Psyche-ology", it would later lose the e. He kept the mythology though, as in an “Oedipal complex” based on the Greek character: Oedipus. 

So Cupid is known for leading Psyche. Which is a beautiful allegory for the soul being lead by love.
Okay, so now we got this little fat guy shooting people in the ass with arrows. My guess is when he shot em in the butt they yelled "Damn Cupid" and later he became known as Dan Cupid. Just a guess there.

In Rome, February 15
th was traditionally the time of the Lupercian festival, a purification fest, an ode to the god of fertility and a celebration of sensual pleasure, thus a time to meet and greet a prospective mate. During this festival, half naked male runners smacked women in the butt with leather thongs called "februa" in the belief that the act would make a barren woman fertile. Februa and the festival day of Februarius on Feb.15th is where the month of February gets its name. 

In the 5th Century, when the Roman Catholics were running Rome, the church decided folks were getting just a little too randy. There was a little too much thong-slapping going on. 

So in the year 496 Pope Gelasius outlawed the pagan festival and began promoting a Saint who had been beheaded by Emperor Claudius in 278 A.D. for marrying young lovers, his name --- St. Valentine. 

St. Valentine getting past the velvet ropes and into heaven
His feast day was set, conveniently enough, one day before the Lupercian festival.
Eventually the Lupercian orgy died down but traditions don't die as easily.  

Nowadays, no one knows who the hell St. Valentine was or whether to spell it Valentine's Day or Valentines Day. They even forget to use his hard earned title of Saint. But everyone knows the little fat bastard armed with bow and arrow.
In other words, Cupid is still around 1,516 years after he was outlawed.
An outlaw of love.
Happy Februarius Everyone.
And a happy thong-slapping to all of you.

Dano Cupid 

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