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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 2/14/16

St. Valentine's Day 2016

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It may have evolved from the ancient Roman fertility festival Lupercalia.

According to my erudite high school chum Laura Peterson (in an email dated 2/13/10):

It was not until the 14th century that this Christian feast day became definitively associated with love. It was Chaucer who first linked St. Valentine's Day with romance in 1381 when he wrote a poem in honor of the engagement between England's Richard II and Anne of Bohemia. He associated the occasion with the St. Valentine's feast day.

Gift-giving became associated with the holiday in the eighteenth century and commercialization kicked in in the mid-nineteenth, courtesy of mass-production initiatives undertaken by a Mt. Holyoke graduate, who brought that festive day to the United States, which did not, however, do much, if anything, to prevent that hate-fest that followed soon after, the Civil War.

War trumped love, as always. Offer me a refutation. I will embrace it, hearts popping out of my head in all directions.

The Trojan War, ignited, according to myth, by adulterous love and passion, was won by Ares, the war god. Helen ended up back in Sparta, ingesting the drug nepenthe, pronounced nay-pen-thay, with her boring brute of a husband Menelaus, to make their boring days seated on side-by-side thrones endurable. They offered some to Odysseus's callow son Telemachus when he came to call, wondering what on earth had become of his dad.

Don't even ask where his dad was. Nothing to do with love. Very off message.


Now how can I end this blog with some super-clout, something to persuade everyone once and for all that, as John Lennon sang, "Love is all we need."

He didn't set much of an example.

Nor did Elton John's hit "Without Love." Or how about "What the World Needs Now . . ." or that tear-jerker of a movie Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing. Didn't it end with the line "It's just a dirty trick"?

We could turn to ancient Rome, where the advice to make love, not war originated, ironically. "True love knows no bounds," wrote Propertius. "Give me a thousand kisses," Catullus implored.

And even earlier in time, the first recorded woman poet in history, Sappho, compared anyone who approached her "sweetly laughing, sweetly prattling" love object to a god.

For Homer, the greatest poet who ever lived, epic began with the wrath of Achilles and ended, more or less, with the most excruciatingly romantic moment in history, the recognition scene between Odysseus and Penelope.

We all cherish such diamonds of myth, history, and art forms. We all weep over the selflessness of the people who rush to grizzly horror scenes like Haiti and Ground Zero to offer their help and sometimes give their lives in that process.

Can we mass-produce not only Hallmark products but love itself and turn it into a viral pandemic no one opposes? Germ love-fare?

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Marta Steele is an author/editor/blogger who has been writing for since 2006. She is also author of the 2012 book "Grassroots, Geeks, Pros, and Pols: The Election Integrity Movement's Nonstop Battle to Win Back the People's Vote, (more...)

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