Friday, February 13, 2009

Lust & Love

Today Valentine's Day seems to be not much more than a sales promotion event for companies that produce chocolates, flowers, greeting cards and other gimmicks like diamond jewelry, teddy bears and special pajamas. But the only gift that actually comes close to the original spirit of the times might be sexy lingerie.

Back in the days of the Roman Empire, February was the time for a holiday known as Lupercalia, a very lusty holiday during which the followers of Pan would run wildly through the streets in animal skins with little whips, the playful touch of which were said to make a woman more fertile.

Women would bare their flesh in order to receive more strokes. People would play the ancient equivalent of spin the bottle and there was a general air of lusty playfulness everywhere.

It does not take much imagination to see why such a holiday would be immensely popular. So, like they did with other holidays, the church laid a more genteel veneer over the old pagan holiday, and thus, Valentine's Day was born.

In the blink of an eye, a day of lusty playfulness was suddenly turned into a day of dedication to love and faithful devotion. All of this was done with the same deft touch that turned Samhain into All Saints Day, Yule into Christmas and the Ostara into Easter. A little smidgen of politics and religion, and voila! the lusty antics, laughter and opportunity for people to stop working to sprout and sport their wild hairs was suddenly tamped down.

So if you are feeling a bit randy on Valentine's weekend, consider it a bit of the roots of the old holiday peeking back through the veneer of chocolates and roses.

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