The year is romping away already! Christmas & New Year disappeared weeks ago in a cloud of chilly fog and mist. The next celebration coming up is the festival of romance and love, good old St. Valentines Day, and it's very murky, often unromantic & bloody history!
There are three St Valentines whose followers cite as being the "original" one the 14th February was named. The first was a rebel, defying a decree from the Roman Emperor Claudius II, the second helped people escape roman jails and the third was a Catholic bishop of whom not much is known other than that, as for the other two, he was beheaded by a Roman emperor close to February 14th.
Like many modern holidays that have been celebrated for centuries, Valentine’s Day can be traced back to a pagan festival, in this case Lupercalia, a fertility festival normally celebrated in February. Priests from an order called Luperci sacrificed a male goat and a dog and then remove the skins. These skins would then be soaked in blood and once deemed ready, young women would be whipped with them (gently, apparently!) with the hope that the young women would become more fertile! The women would then be pair of with young men for a year, in the hopes that they would get married at the end.
Pope Gelasius I decided to integrated Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s day in the fifth century, in an attempt to clean up the festival. The Romantic courtly era in the fourteenth and 15th centuries led to affectionate songs and poetry, indeed Chaucer and Shakespeare also played a part in changing the holiday from a bloody sex festival to a modern love story by writing about it in a sweet, light hearted and decidedly less-lascivious way.
Giving gifts and sending cards is a relatively new invention- first seen in around the 17th Century, where notes and gifts would be given to lovers and friends alike. Cards as we know them today were first sold in around 1934, and quickly became extremely popular with all segments of society.
Here at Gooey Puds we like to keep things modern, relatively un-pagan and clean, so at both Bury St Edmunds and Ely Markets this week you can by 2 Valentine Chocolate Brownies for £5! Delicious to share, or not, they are still delicious!
Maybe get them roses, and keep the brownies to yourself.....