Posts Tagged ‘Valentine’s Day’

This post is a week overdue, but I hope you’ll indulge me.

I can’t remember ever really hating Valentine’s Day. Most years it’s just a pink and red square on my mind’s calendar. In grade school, I loved buying packs of Valentine’s Day cards, signing my name, and affixing a packet of candy to each note. The school required that if you gave one person a valentine, you had to give one to every kid in the class—a sound policy. But, of course, there were inevitably a few people I thought deserved extra special congratulations for being rad (fourth grade in the 90s, rad = ubercool). Something like these:

So, I’d sort my cards, separate the ones with the best messages and illustrations, and give those to my crush(es). Of course, there were always at least 4 copies of each card, so for every crush that received an accurate message, there were usually at least 2 non-crushes that received exactly the same message. Noting that my system had flaws, I decided to offset this by adding candy hearts to each note. I sorted the candies based on message, shoved the hearts reading “Be Mine” and “Luv Ya!” into my crush(es) envelope(s), and taped them shut so that my plan couldn’t go awry. I figured the killer combo of sugar, pithy declarations, and cartoons would make my admiration clear and my crushes smitten.


But these days when I think about Valentine’s Day, I remember my senior year of college.

Ithaca got thwacked by a massive snowstorm on February 14, 2007. I holed up in my warmly-lit room reading Jane Eyre for class, unwilling to venture into the snow drifts until I had to.

And then a visitor knocked on my door. One of my best friends (and former boyfriend)—let’s call him Q. because it sounds daring and mysterious—knocked on my door with a massive plate of cookies. And not just any cookies—frosted cookies fresh from the oven, sprinkled with mini M&Ms.

While I had been holed up, Q. had been making the rounds, bringing cheer in the form of baked goods to a handful his closest friends. And now, four years later, that’s my most vivid (and default) memory of Valentine’s Day. A day filled with sugary declarations of friendship, not mass market candies.

Weather: Sunny. 34 degrees.


Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Happy memories.

Hannah – ? out of 10.



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When I lived in Maine, I used to work at a public computer in a room that doubled as a science classroom. To keep me company was a wildly beautiful taxidermied wolf which stood guard next to my desk. (Anna is, generally speaking, a more cheerful office mate).

This weekend, I had the chance to talk over Skype with my brother Saul, who is currently studying abroad in ancient Rome. As a classics major, he’s always been a little anachronistic. But now that he lives on a hill overlooking the Vatican and spends his days wandering around in 1500-year-old ruins, he seems to have stepped out of time altogether.

Saul told me that this week marks an important holiday on the Roman calendar. (When we asked whether he would be taking part in the festivities, he didn’t answer). Tomorrow is Lupercalia, the traditional Roman festival of fertility and purification, in honor of Lupercus, the god of shephards, and of Lupa, the female wolf who suckled Remus and Romulus, mythic founders of Rome. (Lupus is Latin for wolf.)

Each year on Lupercalia, the Luperci (wolf priests) would sacrifice two male goats and a dog. Boys representing Remus and Romulus were then dressed in loincoths made of goatskin. They were anointed with goats’ blood and sent running through the streets bearing sacred goat-skin whips that they used to symbolically purify anyone standing in their path. Joyfulness ensued.

At the end of the fifth century CE, Pope Galasius outlawed this boisterous holiday, replacing it several years later with the occasion that we now refer to as Valentine’s day. In the 1500 years since Galasius’ era (and, more specifically, in the 100-odd years since the start of the Hallmark era) that once-cheerful occasion has turned into a bit of a downer.

This year, I think we should all try to find a little perspective. Forget, for a moment, the loneliness and the ugly decorations, the high expectations and inevitable disappointments. And remember that, had you lived 1500 years ago, you could be chased through the streets by half-naked boys carrying wolf-skin whips.

Weirdly warm, 47 degrees and overcast

Hannah: 6 out of 10 on the can’t get out of bed to jumping for joy scale. Tired.
Anna: Out today.

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