Valentine's Day: A three pronged approach...
Let's admit it, we are united as a nation in our mixed feelings of love and hatred toward Valentine's Day.
Or more honestly, we have a love of hating the holiday and yet we all feel slightly forced to join in. It is ironic, but true that many people dread the moment of the last minute scramble to show up with a gesture that adequately expresses the complicated relationship you have with love, your lover or indeed brings it home that you don't have a lover at all.
I personally understand the fear, the disappointment and the pressure that surrounds a designated day, highlighting romantic love. I feel there are genuine reasons that we collectively feel this holiday is incongruous. It is a holiday that was originally co-opted by the emotionally prudish early Christians, diverting the deeply sexual and fertility worshipping roots of the Romans festival into a cleaner version of what we humans are made of...
The Roman version of Valentine's Day was called Lupercalia. It was a fun filled and erotically playful celebration which stretched over 3 days, from February 13th to 15th. The name Lupercalia is derived from the Latin word for wolf, which shares its origins with the Latin words for brothel and prostitute. Lupercalia was a festival of fertility, centred around the community dependency on the seasons and the success of agricultural crops, and also the fertility of our own bodies.
There were a number of rituals held as part of the festival which demonstrate the humour of the times. One of my favourites is where unmarried women put their names into a large urn to be picked out by bachelors, pairing them up together. Apparently this often resulted in marriage - surely a prudish historian's euphemism for sex. Another one of my favourites was an event in which the priests and sprightly young women stripped naked as they ran around Rome being whipped by leather thongs.
I hated Valentine's until about 5 years ago when I almost metaphorically hung myself on February 14th. I was still in my unhappy failing marriage and my then husband booked a table at a lovely restaurant, bought me a decent piece of jewellery and a bunch of flowers, although all very nice, all very sweetly predictable, it threw me into a massive depression. I just knew I was joining a whole room of dining pre-divorcees sitting across the table from their stranger husbands with absolutely nothing to say. We walked out of that restaurant prematurely, in retrospect a revelation that our relationship was then over. It was then that I decided that I was going to re-focus Valentine's on myself, Valentine's was no longer about the ideal of romantic love but was about truly loving myself, thus dumping the empty romance and swapping it for what I truly desired: the reality of love, and most importantly for me, a living vibrant sharing sexuality.
Looking to the original meanings and rituals of Valentine's Day resonates with my true need of being whisked away into a passion filled state of humorous, animalistic desire. It is from that premise that I have re-branded my own relationship with Valentine's Day and re-launched it with a much more creative, humorous sexual approach. Since discovering the true meaning of this deceptive and misjudged festival, I have a lot more fun. I am a fully reborn, self confessed advocate of February the 14th.
My Three Foolproof Valentine's Tips
I have a 3 pronged approach to Valentine's which is based on history, and this formula I have to say is fault proof:
1. Celebrate love by (don't vomit) loving yourself. Saint Valentine himself, the advocator of love, sent his first Valentine's declaration to himself. Yes it is funny, but also profound. I have taken this to heart, buying something or doing something that makes me feel great like a vibrator, a great set of underwear or getting a body massage, a facial, a haircut, shopping for the self. No matter what on that day I love myself.
2. In the Roman spirit of fertility and sexuality I make sure I give myself the day off and then I dedicate myself to sex and sexually adoring my partner, no matter what. It is a really interesting and provocative (in a good way) discipline today, I dedicate myself sexually to you, adds a whole flavour to the experience. We get very creative about it, accessorising with every opportunity, indulging in a long and lengthy pleasurable session - I call it 'sexual theatre' at home. It is worth every penny you don't spend on hotels and restaurants.
3. I hold a Valentine's party in the evening for all my friends and family, and those who I newly love. Of course my party has a pot for all the single women to put their names into, to be picked out by the single men, pairing hem up in an unlikely act of fate mix and matching.