Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day

Lupercalia originated as a three-day archaic rite established by the ancient Romans to celebrate fertility from February 13-15. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius I abolished the pagan festival and selected February 14 to honor the Christian martyr Valentinus. The day became associated with romantic love in the high Middle Ages when Chaucer’s poems set fire to the notion of formally courting the object of one’s affection. By the 1400s, Valentine’s Day had already morphed into an occasion in which flowers and candy were exchanged. The notion of romantic love, and Valentine’s Day, it would seem, has been around for a long, long time. All I know is that I love the color red and I love flowers and chocolate, and celebrating all three of those things on the same day is a marvelous idea.

My choice for an outfit to wear for a day of research at the Library of Congress was easy: my favorite sweater, a tightly woven wool turtleneck by the venerable ski apparel outfitter, Meister, which was a gift to me almost twelve years ago from Joyce and Lyle, the parents of my best friend, Kari. I have treasured that sweater since unwrapping it under the Christmas tree, as much for its wonderful form-fitting shape as for its blood red color and marvelous soutache braid on the front. For slacks, I was delighted to confirm that a vintage pair of stretchy black slacks by JCPenney, found in the boxes of old clothing I discovered in my cellar last year, still fit me perfectly. A slight repair at the waist rendered them good as new, and they turned out to be the perfect length for my black, high-heeled booties by Cami from Spiegel.com.

For jewelry, I chose a black and red beaded necklace from Fire & Ice Jewelers of Baltimore (http://www.fireandice.com/), red and gold drop earrings I’ve owned for at least thirty years, a stretchy bracelet of tiny black stones, and a red and gold fabric-banded watch which was a gift from my dear friend, Judy, in Dallas, Texas in 2003.

I was toasty in my red sweater all day. From the approving glances I got in the halls of the Library of Congress, it would seem that the ritual of Lupercalia is alive and well.

Happy chocolate, everyone!

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