It's Valentine's Day and every February 14th, across the world, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint and why do we celebrate this holiday?
The history of Valentine's Day — and its patron saint — is shrouded in mystery. But we do know that February has long been a month of romance. St. Valentine's Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
So, who was Saint Valentine and how did he become associated with this ancient rite? Today, the Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men — his crop of potential soldiers. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine's actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.
Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were often beaten and tortured.
According to one legend, Valentine actually sent the first 'valentine' greeting himself. While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor's daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed 'From your Valentine,' an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories certainly emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic, and, most importantly, romantic figure. It's no surprise that by the Middle Ages, Valentine was one of the most popular saints in England and France.
So what foods should we make for the special one in our life and to get a little action? Well I have compiled a list of some of the things to get your partner in the mood.
• Alcohol: lowers inhibitions and increases confidence; however, over-indulgence has a sedative effect which is not conducive to a romantic tryst if they are in a coma!.
• Asparagus: three courses of asparagus were served to 19th century bridegrooms due to its reputed aphrodisiac powers.
• Banana: due not only to its shape, but also its creamy, lush texture, some studies show its enzyme bromelain enhances male performance.
• Caviar: is high in zinc, which stimulates the formation of testosterone, maintaining male functionality.
• Champagne: viewed as the "drink of love," moderate quantities lower inhibitions and cause a warm glow in the body.
• Chocolate: contains both a sedative which relaxes and lowers inhibitions and a stimulant to increase activity and the desire for physical contact. It was actually banned from some monasteries centuries ago.
• Figs: seasonal crops were celebrated by ancient Greeks in a frenzied copulation ritual.
• Ginseng: increases desire for physical contact.
• Perfumes: made of natural foodstuffs such as almond, vanilla, and other herbs and spices they act as a pheromone to communicate emotions by smell.
• Puffer Fish: considered both a delicacy and an aphrodisiac in Japan. If the poisonous gland is not properly removed, the tiniest taste is deadly. The flirt with death is said to give a sexual thrill. Not recommended.
• Oysters: Some oysters repeatedly change their sex from male to female and back, giving rise to claims that the oyster lets one experience the the masculine and feminine sides of love.
• Radish: considered a divine aphrodisiac by Egyptian pharoahs, most likely because its spicy taste stimulated the palate.
• Truffles: probably due to its rarity and musky aroma, it has long been considered to arouse the palate and the body. To sustain his masculinity, an ancient lover in lore was said to have gorged himself to death on Alba truffles during the wedding feast.
Happy Valentines Day!
* Originally published in 2012.