Sunday, February 12, 2012

Relief carved Celtic heart ceramic tile


6x6 Celtic Knot & heart tile
Available at earthsongtiles.com

The very ancient festival of lupercalia, February 13-15 in honor of Lupercus, god of sheperds and partly in honor of Lupa, the she wolf that suckled the orphans Remus & Romulus, founders of Rome, is said by some to be the origin of Valentines day. In Roman tradition the festival began with the Luperci (brothers of the wolf) priests. Foreheads smeared in sacrificial blood wiped from the knife with milk soaked wool, wearing only a goat skin, they would circle the city of Rome hitting women who lined the route with shaggy goat thongs. This was believed to ensure the barren fertility and the pregnant easy deliveries. Another of the festivities included eligable men drawing maiden's names from an urn, who they would pair with for the remainder of the festival and sometimes longer. Around 496 AD Pope Gelasias, feeling that this pairing of couples was not in keeping with the Christian teachings, ended the festival and replaced it with St. Valentines day whom he declared the patron saint of lovers (that being a whole other story) February 14 then became the day for men to draw the names of saints from the urn and spend the following year emulating their drawn saint. This practice fizzled out and by the 15th century Valentines day had returned to coupling eligable singles. Attemps to revive the saint pairing later never caught on.During medieval chivalry days the Valentines custom was to draw names in pairs, the man then wearing his chosen name on his sleeve, honor bound to attend and protect her. The 17th century saw the custom of exchanging elaborate hand made cards with flowery verse. Pre fabricated cards and a reduction in postal rates in 1797 ushered in the practice of mailing Valentine cards. Suddenly, most likely due to the anonimity of the mail, great numbers of racey, sexually suggestive cards began to appear. A great stir was caused amongst the prudish Victorians and several countries actually banned the exchange of cards due to the large number of obscene Valentines circulating. In the late 19th century the Chicago post office rejected tens of thousands of cards as not being fit to be carried through the US mail. Valentine cards were not to be stopped and today February 14, jokingly refered to as a 'hallmark' holiday has the highest sale of cards than any other day of the year and I'm sure there's a good smattering of sexually suggestive ones among them. So Happy Lupercalia!

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