Monday, February 14, 2011
For some reason, not a lot of people like this particular Holiday. People with significant others see it as a "Hallmark" holiday, and single folks see it as kind of a giant middle finger telling them that they are alone. Me? I'm a single guy, but I LOVE Valentines Day... Ahh.. the romance, the chocolate, the opportunity to be decadently appreciative of the one you love the most.
Perhaps it would help if everyone knew the story behind this most amorous of all holidays.
The year was 1390, when a young Italian man by the name of Antonio Valentino left Italy for England to enlist with King Edward in what is now known as the 100 years war. He wanted to do something honorable with his life and as his Mother was English, he felt that it was his responsibility to fight for her cause.
The night before he was to sail from a small village he, by chance, had dinner at a local tavern. There he met the lovely Anne. They spoke as she served him. Before he left he got up the nerve and asked if he could come back and meet her after work. In an uncharacteristic move, Anne agreed. With a smile on his face, Antonio returned as the tavern was closing and the two of them sat at a table and talked all night long. They spoke of their lives and dreams and by morning were hopelessly in love. Antonio left the fair maiden with an oath that he would return and if she would have him, marry her, so that they could live out their dreams together. She smiled and gave him one kiss in response.
And so it was, that Antonio left and was gone for 8 years.. All the while, being true and faithful to his beautiful Anne. There were no letters back then, no communication with home. Only his memories of her face on his heart, and the trace of her kiss on his lips.
Finally he returned to his beloved... Unfortunately the 1300's was the century of the plague and his Anne had been taken 4 years after he had left. Her Mother told Antonio that Anne knew that he would return and left a letter for him. All the letter said in shaky handwriting was : "My Dearest Antonio, I will love you with all my heart, from where ever my spirit resides".
His heart was beyond broken, he was lost. He spent weeks at her grave, eating nothing, just grieving.
Realizing that this was no way to honor his lost love, but knowing also that no other woman would ever be able to replace her, he went back to Italy and became a priest. He returned a few years later and took over the Parish of that small village. He was no ordinary priest though. In a time where women were almost considered property, he taught that men should revere and cherish their wives. It was then, in that small hamlet that flowers were first given as gifts from husbands to their wives so that they would feel special.
Father Antonio spent much of his free time at Anne's grave, and that is where he died, on Feb.14, at the age of 67. It was said that a single rose grew on that spot, and returned every year.
That is the Holiday that we Honor today, and whether we are with someone or alone, we can sit back, take a deep breath and smile because all of us can celebrate Love..
Is Valentines Day a "HallMark" Holiday? Only if we choose to make it that way.
"I am not a hopeless romantic, I am a hopeful one" (Joan Weilder, Romancing the Stone :-)
Peace Kiddies and Happy Valentines Day