Monday, February 14, 2011

Why Valentine?

Over the weekend I read Steve Dublanica's Waiter Rant, which acts like a front end of the restaurant complement to Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential.

It's a fun and interesting book although it is a little narcissistic at times. As chance would have it, one chapter titled "The Box of Chocolates Saint" relates how Valentine's Day, as he says, "is one of the biggest scams going" (70) in the restaurant industry and also how it's a royal pain in the butt from a waiter's perspective. All those deuces. All the stress from customers.

Since Christianity was a willing and adept religion at co-opting other religions' seasonal celebrations, somehow a day of feasting for a Christian martyr got mashed together with the Roman mythology of Cupid, and the capitalists got ahold of the it later on.

But really, Saint Valentine? According to Dublanica, here's how the martyr met his maker: "It seems the pagan Roman emperor asked Valentine, a priest, to renounce his faith. Showing an appalling lack of survival skills, Valentine refused. The emperor, who I suspect was a bad tipper, rewarded Valentine's intransigence by having him beaten senseless with clubs and beheaded. While poor Valentine's bones moldered in the catacombs, he somehow ended up becoming the patron saint of engaged couples and happy marriages" (72).

There's a dark message here somewhere, I guess. But I'm not going that route.

I've never really gotten all that worked up about the forced holiday whether I was single or attached. But I do appreciate my loved ones.

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