Cupid, in Roman mythology, was the son of Mars and Venus, the god of war and the goddess of beauty. According to myth, he was once sent on an errand (by his own manipulating mother) to go into a mortal’s (Psyche) bedroom to destroy her with an arrow, poisoned to make Psyche fall madly in love with an evil man. On his way in, Cupid fell and cut himself with his own arrow – poisoning himself and becoming mentally ill. For the rest of his existence, he followed other mortals around, shooting at them with the same poisoned arrows – in the hopes that they would become as crazy as he was.
We have taken the Roman god, Cupid, and made him the symbol of romance (and of Valentine’s Day) often depicted as an angel with a bow and arrows.
The truth is that his character was a mama’s boy who tripped on his way to poison a woman his mother was jealous of. He ended up falling madly in love with Psyche – the woman Venus was trying to destroy. Cupid's weakness and stupidity make him a good mascot for the oddest holiday of the year.
This misunderstood holiday is a day that we celebrate our twisted version of romance. Commercially, it is the time where the prices of chocolates, cards, and flowers are inflated. Played well, it can be the perfect day to exploit romance, not celebrate it.
I may sound a little cynical about this holiday. I guess it is because our single friends feel so unloved and so alone. I never have been alone on Valentine’s Day, but I’m literally protective and perturbed for the people who are. These are amazing, awesome people who feel reminded on this one day that their dreams of romance and true love are not being realized.
The origin of the holiday is supposed to be based on the life of a Catholic Saint, named Valentine. What we know about him (from the traditional descriptions written in the 1200’s) Valentine was an evangelical man, preaching Jesus Christ and calling everyone to know Him...and His love. Apparently the Roman emperor at the time (Claudius, in the year 280) opposed proselytizing in any religion, including those his subjects practiced freely.
He called Valentine to his presence and asked for his repentance. Valentine refused, saying that not preaching the Gospel was to deny Christ.
The act of wilful defiance to an emperor was punishable by death, and Claudius ordered it for Valentine the following day – February 14. Before his head was cut off, the Roman guard (Valentine’s jailer) asked Valentine to pray for his young daughter who was blind and going deaf. Apparently, Valentine asked for the girl to be brought to him and prayed that God would restore her sight and hearing.
She was miraculously healed (this is why the Catholic church made him a “saint”). So, St. Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of his execution, not his birthday.
It was Chaucer (who wrote Canterbury Tales) that proclaimed St. Valentine’s Day to be “A Day for Lovers” in his poem “Parlement of Foules” (Assembly of Birds).
I’m not falling for that. Mario and I celebrate the holiday by boycotting it. We make a choice to celebrate the day after, when chocolates were 50% off and the cards that didn’t sell were priced to go. We would try to out-do each other with the cheesiest cards we could find. I once gave him a “left-over” card that showed the silhouette of an African-American woman (complete with afro and formal gown) and said “With deepest love from your brown sugar.”
This makes me smile... we beat the holiday pressure at its own game.
Want to know the greatest tale of romance? Jesus Christ was born and died and rose again to make it possible for someone as messed up as me to receive my Heavenly Father’s love. That’s true love.
Happy Valentine’s Day.