February 1998

Ever hear of the festival of Flor? Oh, you probably know it by it's newfangled name: St. Valentine's Day. Always thought you were right and firm on one thing, didn't you. Well ha! I am here to shake your foundations of "truth".

It's probably a common theme this month, but I'll go ahead and be unoriginal for once (God forbid). Yes, my friends, this is the month of love (melodramatic sigh). February 14, St. Valentines Day. It just kind of sits there, doesn't it? No one really takes much notice of it except to pass out cheap paper cards with cliché sayings like "be my valentine" and "oh won't you be mine" to the entire class. We've all had time out of third grade classes so that we could pass out these cheap remnants of more passionate era, and we've all felt just a tinge of disappointment when we realize that someone didn't give us a valentine. Sad considering how this holiday started out.

It dates back to a pre-Christian era and was a pagan celebration for the goddess Flor. The Revelers would merrily dance around a bonfire barefoot while singing song of worship to her. She was a love goddess (you'd be surprised how many there were), and consequently on this day people exchanged gifts, usually garlands and wreaths of flowers, with their loved ones and lovers to show their love while sharing as well their feelings with the hopes that the goddess would help preserve this love for all times. Time passed, and guess who came around. Yep, the Christians. Obviously they couldn't have their converts and potential converts celebrating this pagan holiday if they were going to revel in the full glory of God (yeah the full glory of God...), so in a typical maneuver, they assigned that day to a saint who might be able to fit the previous role (i.e. St. Valentine). Don't take this poor benighted non-Christian's word for it, but I think St. Valentine was a bishop in Italy who performed clandestine marriages that the church refused to perform because of a lack of money on the couples part. He also left money in the houses of struggling and newlywed couples. Can you imagine finding up to 30 gold crowns under your bed one day just because you were a newlywed. Can you imagine the conversations couples might have?! Fairly fitting, I must admit, and now only one question remains: why do we celebrate this day now?

Okay don't get me wrong but saint's days just aren't as important as they were. We don't celebrate them as vigorously as we did. People might not even know about some saints if it weren't for common objects like St. Elmo's Fire which many skiers can give you a definition for. What is it about this day, February 14, that makes the general populous celebrate it? When I asked my friend what they thought about the day, I got an overwhelmingly negative response. People said it was overly commercialized, that it was a crock because no one actually shows love or any thing at all. Some people told me horror stories of how every relationship they had had ended near or around this day. I only got a couple of positive responses for this positive day. Is it that we're trying to feel a sense of tradition, or maybe the emotion of love is so strong it preserved the rituals of this day. Who knows?

I personally feel that the festival of Flor should be as it once was: pure with unbridled emotion. I guess I wish that people shouldn't have to hide their emotions from each other. For once we should be able to share without fear of rejection and not hide from ourselves and others. I can't imagine a world without any type of love at all, be it love of family boy/girlfriend, spouse, an activity, or God. Love is one of the oldest, intense, and most perfect emotions the gods gave to us, and this is a day that should be filled with the said power.

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