I want to congratulate our Lodge Presidents who are setting up either all Zoom or Hybrid meetings. Some of our Lodges are doing take out/drive by dinners to keep in touch and to do fundraising during this time. There is one Lodge that is doing a “Dining on Zoom” meeting twice a month. They pick a type of food and everyone makes it. Then they spend an hour eating and socializing. If you don’t make the meal you can still socialize. It is a wonderful way to keep in touch safely. All our Lodges are doing a great job of keeping in touch with our members.
We have just celebrated Valentine’s Day. Here are some fun facts about the history of this day. This day is celebrated in Italy but didn’t start with Saint Valentine it began about eight hundred years before he was born. Valentine’s day history has its roots in ancient Roman culture when Juno Februtis, god of purification and fertility, was worshipped on 15 February.
The feast of Lupercalia was also celebrated on February 15th and was a very popular feast believed to bring purification and fertility on the city of Rome. It celebrated the end of the old year (February being the last month in the ancient Roman calendar), the coming of Spring and the start of the growth of crops.
Some commentators on engagement traditions maintain that on the eve of ‘Lupercalia’ - February 14th - the names of young Roman women were drawn from an urn by young men and became ‘betrothed’ for at least the following year. Some, though by no means all, of those unions later became marriages.
So modern Valentine’s Day traditions related to becoming ‘engaged’ on 14th February seem to go back as far as the culture of ancient Roman weddings.
The rise of Christianity meant that Christian leaders weren’t keen on keeping ‘pagan’ traditions - nor did they want to alienate the Roman population.
So, the feast of ‘Lupercalia’ was re-defined as a Christian festival of love, re-dated to the eve of ‘Lupercalia’ - 14th February - and dedicated to a third century Roman martyr, executed on 14th February and subsequently to become a Saint - Valentine (or, to give him his rightful name, San Valentino).
And so, our present Saint Valentine’s Day traditions were born.
In the third century A.D., the Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers - so he banned marriage for young men of fighting age.
A young priest called Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, continued to marry young lovers in secret. When his defiance of the Emperor was uncovered, he was imprisoned and sentenced to death.
But he wasn’t finished yet. Whilst in prison he became friends with one of his jailers, who had a daughter unable to see. In an act later defined as a miracle, St Valentine restored her sight and his jailer converted to Christianity.
Still, that’s not the end of the story. For the day before his execution Valentine wrote a letter to the daughter, expressing his regard for both her and her father. He signed it “Your Valentine”.
And so, the Valentine’s Day traditions of letter-writing and, in the eighteenth century, sending cards, were born, and have remained part of the culture of Italy ever since.
Till next month Barbara
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