Ten Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day. We often celebrate the day of love with flowers and cards. According to the Society of American Florists 198 million roses were produced for Valentine’s Day in 2010. Men purchase about 75 percent of the those roses.

Most of those roses are red which is a sign of passionate love. But maybe this year you want to try purple, which says “I will always love you.”

Besides the commercialization of St. Valentine’s Day, there is some history behind the holiday. You may have thought that Valentine’s Day was a made up holiday. When you think about it, aren’t all holidays made up? Someone had to declare a certain day a holiday at some point.

Without further adieu, let’s get the celebration started. Find the one you love, sit down, and enjoy a little history for the day.

I give you 10 things you probably didn’t know about Valentine’s Day.

1. The history of Valentine’s Day may have started with the ancient Romans who celebrated the feast of Lupercalia from February 13th through the 15th. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog and then whipped women with hides. Women lined up for the whipping in hopes that it would make them fertile.

2. Emperor Claudius II executed two men in different years named Valentine. The Catholic church honored their martyrdom by celebrating St. Valentine’s Day.

3. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized the day making it even more popular in Britain. Handmade cards became standard gift.

4. During the Middle Ages in France and England, Feb. 14 was the beginning of bird’s mating season.

5. The oldest known valentine is from 1415. Charles, Duke of Orleans, imprisoned in the Tower of London, wrote his wife a poem. The poem is kept in the British Library in London.

6. The industrial revolution made factory bought cards available. In 1913, Hallmark started mass producing Valentine’s Day cards.

7. Today, over 150 million cards are exchanged, second only to Christmas.

8. Women purchase 85% of the cards. With men buying the majority of roses, I’d say women get the better end of the deal.

9. Besides the US and Britain, these countries also celebrate the holiday: Canada, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, France, South Korea, and the Philippines. The most popular wedding day in the Philippines is Valentine’s Day.

10. The St. Valentine’s Day Massacre’s only connection to the holiday is that it occurred on Feb. 14, 1929. Seven men from George “Bugs” Moran’s gang were gunned down on Chicago’s north side by men dressed as police officers. Police suspected rival Al Capone ordered the hit.

There is no argument that Valentine’s Day has become commercialized, but so has every other holiday. Notice the Christmas decorations going up on Halloween? Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you now know that it’s not just a Hallmark holiday. The celebration goes back thousands of years.

I hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day before you give up chocolate for Lent.

Why We Make and Break Resolutions

You’ve had a month to make friends with that resolution. How’s it going? The three week mark has come and gone so you should have created a habit by now.

Hmmm. Not going as well as planned?

Don’t feel bad. Like millions of people, you probably quit.

Only 8% of the people who make resolutions succeed.

I’m here to tell you that it’s okay if you didn’t make it.

I understand how stressful the new year can be. You have to start writing 2018 on your checks, for you dinosaurs who still use checks, and you have to review that goals list from last year that you made in January and tucked away in a drawer, never to be seen again. If you’re in the northern part of the country, you might be trying to stay warm and worrying about that heat bill that doubled from last month.

So why do we make resolutions at the beginning of the new year?

Once again we can blame the Babylonians. Some 4000 years ago, when they were tinkering around with the calendar, they began their new year with a twelve day celebration when the crops were planted. During this time, they would make promises to the gods to pay debts and return items they had borrowed.

When Julius Caesar made his contribution to the changing calendar by moving the beginning of the year to January 1, the Romans made sacrifices to the deity Janus in hopes of bringing in a good year.

Today, we don’t make sacrifices, unless you choose dieting as your resolution, but we do make resolutions hoping to make the coming year better. It’s tradition.

I’m all for tradition so for those of you who already quit and want to try again while there’s still time, I’d like to offer a few suggestions.

Define that resolution so it’s achievable. Saying you’re going to lose weight isn’t specific enough. Saying you’re going to lose 30 pounds is reaching. Instead you need to lower your standards.

Resolve to lose 5 pounds. You can certainly do this in three weeks. Heck, you can probably do this in a week. Either way, you’ve set a goal that you can achieve just by knocking out the chips, soda and ice cream. Once the week is over, you can get on with your life knowing you succeeded with your resolution. If you decide to continue, even better. Anything extra is a bonus.

What if you resolve to be a better person this year? Again, you have to make it specific. Be a better husband by a) putting the toilet seat down, b) do something about your snoring, and/or c) watch “Dirty Dancing” at least once this year with your wife. You can measure your success by simply asking you wife how you’re doing.

If you want to be a better wife let your husband watch the ballgame every third Sunday, unless the Sunday falls on the 1st or the 15th of the month. Again, measurable. She’ll let you know how she’s doing.

Next, you have to make sure that what you resolve is something that you really, really and I mean really want to do. My philosophy is that a person will make time for something he or she really, and I mean really wants to do. Put the power of the mind on your side, and the battle is half won.

Do an internal audit and decide if you really want to lose weight. Don’t put it on the list because you feel the pressure to come up with a resolution.

Those of us in the north have an exceptionally difficult time with dieting when the wind chill is 20 below. Our survival instincts tell us to fatten up for the winter, not diet. We also have the big sweater excuse that is too easy to use. Many a northerner has used the big sweater excuse to delay dieting until April. No need to lose it if you can cover it.

I think we can all agree that trying to succeed at your resolution takes hard work. Maybe we need to take a different approach. I suggest that instead of resolutions, we make limitations. This could take some of the pressure off and be less stressful.

Let’s say you resolved to lose 20 pounds. If you change that to, “I limit myself to losing 20 pounds,” you win if you lose anything under 20 pounds. You’re not climbing a 20 pound mountain any more.

What if you decide that you’re going to be a better person this coming year. Again, you can change this to a limitation. I’ll be good most of the time because you should anyway, but limit your exceptional behavior to Tuesdays and Thursdays and every other Saturday.

As always, you have to find what works for you.

If you’re part of the 8% that’s still going strong, I applaud you. Good for you! You obviously have stamina and resolve. We could learn from you.

If you never made a resolution, I applaud you too. You must know who you are. You either realize that resolutions are for sissies, or you know that you’re going to fail, so you don’t bother wasting time.

If you did make a resolution and have quit, or about to, don’t beat yourself up. As I’ve shown, making resolutions is stressful. Use some of my advice and try again. It’s not too late.

But if you don’t try again that’s okay too. 2018 is probably not going to be any better than 2017 and by the end of the year, you’re not going to remember enough from 2017 to compare the two years anyway. The only thing you’ll remember about 2018 is that Easter was on April Fool’s Day and the Easter bunny decided not to cook the eggs.

Essential Facts About Who Discovered the Calendar

While looking at the 2017 calendar before the official toss, I realized I couldn’t remember how our calendar was created. I knew we used the Gregorian calendar and that it was based on the time it took for the earth to revolve around the sun. But that’s all I knew. So, I did a little research and am happy to share this information with you so that you’ll be smarter today than you were yesterday.

Early calendars were based on the cycle of the moon. A synodic month was the complete cycle of the moon phase. A solar year would be 12.37 synodic months. Days or months would have to be added in order to keep in line with the seasons.

A lunar calendar was of little help to hunters and farmers who needed to know rainy seasons, first frost and when to plant.

The Gregorian calendar is also known as the New Style calendar. In 1582, Pope Gregory the XIII introduced his new calendar because Easter was drifting further away from March 21st.

At the time, Europeans were using the Julian calendar which started in 45 B.C. With the help of his astronomer Sosigenes, Julius Caesar instituted a calendar based on the sun and not the moon. They figured a year to be 365 days and eventually realized that they needed to add that extra day to keep some consistency. What they didn’t realize was that a year is 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds. The Julian calendar was a day off every 130 years.

By the time 1582, the seasons were off and Pope Gregory decreed a correction. Oct. 4 was to be followed by Oct. 15. This would put the vernal equinox the following year on March 21st. Leap years also needed adjusting so they decided that leap years would be omitted from years ending in hundreds unless the year was divisible by four.


The rest of the world was slow to accept the decree because it came from Catholic Rome. It took over 150 years for Britain and the colonies to adopt the same calendar. In 1752, Britain declared they would make the switch. September 2nd was to be followed by September 14th. When the days were added, Washington’s birthday moved from Feb. 11, 1731 to February 22, 1732.

The Julian calendar was based on a calendar the Egyptians established for the Nile Valley around 3200 B.C. As far as we know, they were the first to figure out the length of the year. They used the annual rising of the water, flooding that took place from June to October, growing from October to February and harvest from February to June.

The Egyptians eventually found a sign to mark the beginning of their year. The brightest star, Sirius the Dog Star rose in the morning in direct line with the rising sun. This became the beginning of the new year. They continued with the 365 day year not accounting for the extra 1/4 day. Over the centuries each named month gradually occurred in a different season.

Although most of the world runs on the Gregorian calendar. There are some people who still use a lunar calendar.

The Jewish calendar begins in autumn with the appearance of the new moon. Their year contains 29 or 30 day months and a leap year with an intercalary month.

The Christians base Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon which happens upon or next after March 21st.

Muslims also follow a lunar calendar but do not make adjustments to keep the calendar in line with the seasons. They follow a twelve lunar cycle calendar alternating between 29 and 30 days. Ramadan is the ninth month and each year it’s nine to ten days earlier.

As long as man’s life was marked by nature, he remained its prisoner.

Creating the week was a step toward controlling time. The early Romans lived by an eight-day week. Farmers worked for seven days and came to town on the eighth day. Somewhere along the time line the seven-day week was adopted. Why seven?

We can only speculate. Seven has always had some mystical essence. Seven wonders of the world, Japan’s seven gods of happiness, seven deadly sins, and most prominent, God created the heavens and the earth in six days and rested on the seventh day.

By the third century A.D., the Romans lived the seven-day week with each day being named after the current day planets: sun, moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn. The days of the week in European languages still use the planets. For example, in Spanish, martes is Mars, miercoles is Mercury, jueves is Jupiter, viernes is Friday.

It’s amazing  that the calendar we follow today dates back to 1582. Pope Gregory and his astronomers had no computer models to look at or apps to do their math. They observed and calculated in an effort to move mankind one step closer to controlling its surroundings.

 

References:

Boorstin, Daniel. J. The Discoverers.

Cohen, Jennie. 6 Things You May Not Know About the Gregorian Calendar. History Channel website. http://www.history.com/news/6-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-gregorian-calendar

 

Show Buttons
Hide Buttons
%d bloggers like this: