Friday, 10 February 2012

Valentines Day - The myth, the man, the customs

by: Stephanie Burkhart

Ah, February, the month of love dedicated to St. Valentine. Yet Valentine's story is mired in myth and legend. No one knows the definitive background of this romantic Saint, but we do know he existed – and inspired long ago.

What we do know isn't much. Archaeologists have uncovered a tomb in the Old Roman catacombs dedicated to the Saint. In 496 A.D., 14 February was declared a day of honor to the Saint by Pope Gelassius.

There are three prevailing myths surrounding Valentine. The first one dates back to when Claudius II was Emperor of Rome, in the 3rd Century A.D. (270 A.D., to be exact) Claudius determined single men made better soldiers and forbid the Roman soldiers to marry. Valentine, a priest, defied Claudius and married the soldiers. When Claudius found out what Valentine was doing, he had him put to death.

The second myth, which could easily blend into the first, had Valentine in jail. (Probably awaiting his fate that Claudius had decreed) While in prison, Valentine fell in love with the jailor's daughter. Before he was put to death, he sent her a letter and signed it, "From Your Valentine," thus, staring an expression that you can still find on Valentine cards today.

The third myth, which again, could easily blend into the first and second, making this all one myth, involves the pagan Roman celebration called Lupercalia. The Romans considered February the start of spring and with the onset of spring, they found it a time for purification. Houses were cleaned and swept. Salt and wheat were sprinkled throughout their home as part of their custom of purification. Lupercalia began on the Ides of February (15 February) and dedicated to the Roman god of fertility as well as the Roman founders of Romulus and Remus.

The church had a habit of taking pagan Roman celebrations and fitting them into the calendar to make them more "politically correct." It was Pope Gelassius who outlawed Lupercalia, and it was believe St. Valentine's feast day replaced it in order to "Christianize" the pagan ritual.

While the official reason has been lost to history, I don't see why all three of these myths can't be melded together to found the basis of the day we celebrate now.

Interestingly, different cultures nowadays have different takes on the 14th of February. In the Western world, cards, flowers, and chocolates are traditional gifts. In Finland, it's known as Friend's Day and it extends to friends as well as loved one.

In Turkey, the day is known as Sweetheart's Day. Interesting since most of Turkey follows Islam. In most Asian countries, notably Japan, the only recognition of St. Valentine's Day is a custom where only the women give men chocolate. There is a reply day for the men to return the favor to the women.

Countries like India, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan try to have the holiday banned. At a minimum, the governments in those countries discourage participation, but there is a thriving black market of roses and wrapping paper.

Information taken from Online Sources including Wikipedia.

Author Bio: A member of Generation X, Stephanie was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire. She joined the US Army at 18 and spent 11 years active duty, 7 stationed overseas in Germany. When she left the service, she settled in California and is now a 911 Dispatcher for LAPD. Her favorite football team is the New England Patriots. Stephanie's latest release is "Twilight Over Moldavia," a paranormal romance set in Romania in the 1880's.

5 Hearts, Sizzling Hot Book Reviews
The twisting story line will keep your nose in the book until you have finished. Stephanie's ability to add suspense and mystery to romances gives her stories all the more depth. If you love werewolf stories, romances, or a good book, I recommend Twilight Over Moldavia.

4 Stars, Vijaya Schartz, author
In this novel full of danger and intrigue, sexy scenes, and unspeakable secrets, the werewolves are the villains, and oh how dangerous they are, and unwashed, and uncivilized. The kind of villains you love to hate.

5 Stars, Mona Risk, Author "No More Lies"
Burkhart's writing style grabs the reader from the first page. She keeps you breathless with her suspense as she transports you to exotic areas you will enjoy discovering.

5 Stars, Karen Michelle Nutt, Author of the "Fallen Angel" Series:
"Ms. Burkhart paranormal tale is rich in history, painting a picture as clearly as if the reader is standing beside Stefan and Caroline."

5 Stars, Barbara M. Hodges, Author of "The Blue Flame"
Twilight Over Moldavia whisked me into a part of the world I knew nothing about, and gave me a wonderful love story filled with suspense too. What more could a reader desire?

5 Stars, Reader's Favorites, Brenda Ballard


Romanian unification is on the horizon. Prince Stefan Sigmaringen travels to Ploiesti, Carpathia. He's to be promised in marriage to the Crown Princes Caroline, a spirited young lady who prefers riding horses and archery to embroidery and dancing.

Despite Stefan's initial apprehension, he discovers that his intended is a pleasant surprise with a caring heart. He also learns a strange man named Timon has an unnatural interest in him.

Two years later, Stefan and Caroline are officially engaged. To Stefan's horror he overhears his mother confessing to a dangerous secret – she cursed him in order to conceive him and Stefan owes his body to Timon. There is a condition to overcome the curse, but Stefan will have to draw on all his courage and inner strength to confront the werewolf who desires to posses his soul. Stefan feels it isn't fair to fall in love with Caroline with a foul enchantment hanging over his head. Dare Caroline break the blood bonds of the curse with her love?


She nipped at her lower lip, and the energy between them surged. He tilted his head and drew her close, their mouths awkwardly skirting each other. Her breath, warm and hinting of apricots from the wine she had sipped earlier, ghosted over his cheek. Their lips brushed, and his pulse spiked. Gently, he continued to kiss her with hesitant exploration. She was the first woman he had ever kissed, and her lips were everything he had expected -- and more.

He placed his hands on her waist and tugged her close, pressing her against the length of his body. She put her hands on his shoulders and trailed her fingers along the nape of his neck.

Stefan groaned and increased the intensity of the kiss. Fueled by their mutual desire, his manhood grew hard. He hadn't known that feeling before. He could lose his head to it.

He broke off the kiss and drew in a breath. Confusion pooled in Caroline's expression.

"No." He paused. "I don't think we should go too fast."

"All right."

"Alina, I don't think it's wise for us to discuss Viktor," Stefan's mother said, her proximity startling him. Nervous energy spiked through him at her tone.

He placed his finger over his lips, and Caroline nodded. He furrowed his brow and gestured for her to hide behind the rose bushes near the bench with him. She did so.

His mother's and Lady Alina's footsteps echoed along the walking path.

"Viktor put all of this in motion," Lady Alina said.

Stefan's mother exhaled. "No, I did," she said, her voice heavy with regret. "I made a poor decision."

"He took advantage of you in a moment of deep pain. You were mourning the death of your son, Hadrian."

"I should have been more guarded."

"Viktor was a cunning wolf. We all thought he could be trusted."

Their footsteps stopped. Stefan prayed they couldn't hear his pounding heartbeat.

"The curse will come to fruition soon," Alina said.










Jenny Twist said...

You do great blogs, Steph. I always enjoy them.

Lindsay Townsend said...

Beautiful cover and excerpt, Steph!

Fascinating about Valentines - I think you're right about the 3 myths and together they do make a good blend.

I like the idea of friends' day in Finland, and Sweetheart's day in Turkey.

StephB said...

Thanks, Jenny. You always bring a smile when you pop in.

Lindsay, I'm all for a friend's day. :)

LK Hunsaker said...

Nice overview, Steph :-) I passed the link along on Twitter.