As I look out the window on this St. Valentine's Day at the snowy landscape, and I remember the wind chill beating down on me as I was walking into work…I have to ask why in the world Valentine's Day is on such a frigid month of the year. I have to remember that not everyone is freezing as LA enjoys 75 degrees today, but more than half of the country is at least 50 degrees or less.
There is nothing like the heels in ice, windblown hair, freeze to death outfit that you have to get excited about when heading out tonight with a low of 4 and a wind chill of -11. For some reason that doesn't scream romance to me. However, I have to say a cozy fireplace and a good movie might be the better ticket!
So how does all of this relate to the weather you might be asking? Well, it might not have been this cold when the idea of Valentine's Day came about! Pope Gelasius I started St. Valentine's Day in a purely liturgical sense back in 496AD to replace the distasteful Roman fertility festival Lupercalia. Nothing in the way of flowers & chocolates for centuries though until 1382 when the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote from the Parlement of Foules, "For this was St. Valentine's Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate". He was writing in the midst of the High Middle Ages when courtly love flourished. Historian Jack Oruch found this first reference to Valentine's Day & concludes that Chaucer is the instigator of the romance behind the holiday.
Notice how Chaucer also mentions birds, how on earth could there be birds mating in winter!! Oruch notes that he wrote his poems in the end of the Medieval Warm Period. He also states that the date for the start of spring has changed since Chaucer's time because of the precession of equinoxes and the introduction of the Gregorian calendar. All this in consideration, the weather might have been warm enough for birds to begin nesting & mating in mid-February. So it very well could have been much warmer when all this hoopla began!
Whatever the reason is for the height of romance to be in the middle of winter, I guess we should all be grateful there is a holiday to give thanks to all the people we love. So snuggle up as Old Man Winter brings those temperatures down for the Twin Cities on this Valentine's Day!
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