By: Jana Adams
The Banks County News
February 6, 2002
From the love lotteryı to St. Valentine
If you lived in ancient Rome, mid-February could have found you paired off for a year with someone who drew your name out of a hat, or more specifically, an urn, at the end of Lupercalia, a fertility festival.
At the culmination of the spring festival, young single women would put their names in a large urn, young bachelors would draw out a name, and the couple would pair off for a year. Sometimes marriage followed, sometimes it didnıt.
In an effort to squelch the pagan festival, the church instigated its own February ritual, with Pope Gelasius declaring February 14 as St. Valentineıs Day in 498 A.D. The ³lottery² system of romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and was outlawed.
According to the History Channel website, there were three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. Legend has it that during the reign of Emperor Claudius II in Rome, all young single men were forbidden to marry; instead they should all be soldiers, the emperor thought, without the hassle of a wife and children. One Valentine, a priest, continued to secretly marry young couples and may have been imprisoned and beheaded for his disobedience. Some stories say Valentine sent the first ³valentine² himself, writing a love letter to his jailerıs daughter and signing it, ³From your Valentine.² Later accounts credit the first ³valentine² to Charles dıOrléans, a member of the French royalty who, while imprisoned in England (1415), wrote love poems about the state of his ³heart.²
February has long been a month for romance. In the Middle Ages in France and England, it was believed that February 14 was the start of the birdsı mating season, and that added to the idea that the mid-February day should be set aside for romance.
Also around that time, the ³heart² red, symmetrical, the universal ³logo of love² was introduced in art and writing, and the idea of the ³heart² as the seat of the soul and emotions was popular. In later days, when valentines were exchanged, they often pictured turtledoves and pigeons, which mate for life, as signs of fidelity, as well as the perfectly shaped red heart not quite like the scientific version as a sign of love and passion.
In the Victorian period, divination games were popular around Valentineıs Day. Young people would write the names of their favorite people on pieces of paper, insert each one into a bit of clay and drop the clay into a vat of water. The first bit of clay to rise to the surface was opened; the name found inside was supposedly that of the personıs future sweetheart. Generally, a valentine greeting would then be sent, but unsigned, because to sign it would bring bad luck.
In the 16th and 17th century, when the idea of romantic love was no longer just for the aristocracy, the general population began exchanging small hearts and tokens of affection in February. By around 1800, the first simple commercial valentines were available; by 1840s, the were available for mass consumption, decorated with satin, lace, loversı knots, bleeding hearts, cupids, bows and arrows, turtledoves and messages of love: ³My orb of day departs with thee,² or ³I love thee! Oh! I love thee! Dearer art thou than life. I love thee! I love thee! Say, wilt thou be my wife?²
The tradition continues. So, OK, the cards arenıt quite the same I saw one in a store window the other day that said ³Husband,² and showed a spotted pig hog, to put it less nicely with googly eyes (who knows what that message was about) but the idea remains basically unchanged. Everywhere you turn these days, you are seeing red red hearts, balloons, cards, candy, roses and general reminders that Valentineıs Day is coming up again, and still after all these years.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a reporter for MainStreet News.
The Banks County News
February 6, 2002
If itıs not taxpayer money,
whose money is it?
The president of the Banks County Convention and Visitors Bureau declared at a meeting last week that the $112,000 the organization expects to collect this year is not taxpayerıs money.
Just who does she think the money belongs to? It is a sales tax collected in Banks County. It most certainly does belong to the taxpayers and anyone who doesnıt understand that has no business being responsible for how the money is spent.
Commissioner Pat Westmoreland should be commended for his comments at a BOC meeting Friday calling for the county to take a look at how the money is being spent. For too long, there has been no oversight or direction from the county on how this money is being spent. Westmoreland didnıt accuse anyone of wrongdoing, he just said the money could be spent better to promote tourism.
Westmoreland is the first county leader to take a public stand on this issue and itıs about time. The other commissioners didnıt give any input on this discussion, with the chairman only encouraging Westmoreland to ³meet with the press² to discuss the issue.
Itıs not an issue that will be decided in the press. Itıs one that the commissioners will have to address.