It’s valentine’s day, or St Valentine’s Day, whichever you prefer; so it seems appropriate I should write something about love, or the forgotten Catholic saint, or even take a sarcastic look at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (the murder of seven gangsters in prohibition-era Chicago, or if you prefer it was an awesome WWF wrestling event from back in the day). So I do what I always do and get lost in Wikipedia, reading things that may or may not be true on subjects that are of no real importance. I learn pointless things, like Saint Valentine’s Day was deleted from the Roman calendar of saints in 1969, or that there were supposedly 14 saints called Valentine and nobody really knows anything about them or even which one the day was dedicated to. God, I’m such a romantic. A skull supposedly belonging to a Saint Valentine is on display in the Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome. A typically Catholic death-obsessed way of commemorating/celebrating.
We are going out for Japanese food, which has become a tradition on Valentine’s day. 14th February is also the anniversary of my long trip to Japan in 2007, which I enjoy reminding myself of by eating sushi and sashimi with the person who was my reason for coming home. Plus some sake might be called for I think. The closest (I think) in Japan to Valentine’s day is tanabata (7th July or 7th August) which celebrates the love between two star systems separated in the sky by the Milky Way. It’s celebrated by writing wishes on pieces of paper and decorating bamboo, and holding parades and the like. In practice it’s nothing like Valentine’s day, but it’s close enough for me to attempt that tenuous link.
Anyway I think I’ve exhausted my interest and enthusiasm for the subject of Valentine’s day, and evidently have shed no new light on the subject, or discovered anything of interest. Not that I was trying to. I wasn’t brought up to make a big deal out of days like this; anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas even! But even so, I like to do something and would be in trouble if I didn’t. And any excuse to eat Japanese food is worth taking advantage of.
I’ve just found an old pre-Great War/Victorian tradition called ‘vinegar valentines’. These are valentine’s day cards (or sometimes postcards) that instead of a message of love, feature a hideous caricature and a poem calling the recipient a twat (in the politest possible manner, of course). "Don't bang your hired piano at all hours/Some consideration is due to your unfortunate neighbors." Should we bring these back, or do people have enough to worry about without getting snidey little cards anonymously. I think we can do without that. If you want to be involved in that sort of thing then go and leave comments on youtube videos.