Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My heart will go on!

Today is Valentine's Day! That special time each year where expressions of love, friendship, lust and chocolate play major roles. By 21st Century standards, the holiday is fast-becoming obnoxious, with cheap dark red, market-purchased flowers that may last a few hours if that, the proverbial heart-shaped box of waxy chocolates and the enormous heart-holding bear folks purchase at the corner of the local gas station. No wonder there is no romance worth speaking of these days.
Actually, Valentine's Day goes way back in history, but I found some interesting and different customs worth investigation from the 18th Century.

According to Smithsonian.com, in the 1700's, rural Englishwomen would pin five bay leaves to their pillows (four on the corners, one in the middle) on Valentine's Eve, and supposedly dream of their future husband. Some early aromatherapy, if nothing else. To add to the hopeful prophecy, some wore a clean nightgown, turned inside out, and lying down, would say the words, "Good Valentine, be kind to me, in dreams let me my true love see!"

At the time, in England, the passing of love notes became popular, a precursor to the Valentine's Day card. In 1797, the Young Man's Valentine Writer was published, suggesting rhymes and messages for these notes, and as the postal service became more affordable, the anonymous card of love became possible!

Finally, my most favorite of my research is the tradition of "heaving". Yes, heaving!! Though not connected particularly with Valentine's Day, this practice took place in England and Wales, where groups of men were allowed to physically lift women off the ground in a chair specially adorned with ribbons and flowers for the purpose. You can just picture skirts flying, glimpses of garters and other unmentionables, the giggling, the screams and laughter. The "Oh, please stop! Please stop!" which really means keep going!

So, if you're looking for something fun to do today, for the good of the day, forego the obvious  present-day Valentine offerings, and pin some leaves to your pillow, send a handmade anonymous card to someone you admire or lust after, listen to some beautiful music (how about Chopin? Rachmaninoff?), watch an old romantic movie (how about Now, Voyager! or Camile or Random Harvest - get out the kleenex). Or, find someone to heave, or be heaved, but don't forget to wear something lacy!!

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