Broker Check

It wasn’t Hallmark…it was Chaucer

| February 13, 2021
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I have to admit that I struggled deciding on a topic for this week’s thoughts for you.  I didn’t want to choose the obvious topics of Valentine’s Day or President’s Day, but everything else I read this past week was just – boring.  With one exception-- I did come across recent photographs of the Marblehead Lighthouse which are posted on my Facebook page: “The Financial Planning Group”.  You may enjoy looking at them, but there wasn’t much to write about.  So Valentine’s Day and President’s Day it is.

Valentine’s Day did not begin as a “day of love”.  Many believe the Catholic church placed the holiday in the middle of February to preempt the pagan holiday of Lupercalia.  Lupercalia was a fertility festival in which, and I am not making this up, the Roman priests would sacrifice a goat and then “gently slap women…with the goat hide”.  The women believed they would be more fertile over the coming year.  (Saturday morning, I asked Heather if she wanted to celebrate Lupercalia?  Nope, that didn’t go over well at all!) 

There is also some mystery about which patron Saint is to be honored by this day.  Valentine, or Valentinus, was a common name in the Middle Ages.  There was even a Pope Valentine, though he only served for about 40 days.  The Catholic church recognizes at least three saints named Valentine and all three were martyred.  To clarify which Saint we celebrate each February, the Church officially named him St. Valentine of Rome.  Evidently his skull is on display at the Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Rome.  (I asked Heather if she wanted to go and see the skull = Same reaction I received regarding Lupercalia.)

Perhaps what I found the most interesting about the history of St. Valentine’s Day is how the day became associated with amorous feelings for others.  It wasn’t until 1375 when English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Parliament of Foules.”  In this work, he intertwined the tradition of courtly love with the celebration of St. Valentine’s feast day.  Seriously?  I thought it had something to do with Hallmark cards.

St. Valentine’s Day may not have been concocted by the capitalists at Hallmark, but all of the “President’s Day Sales” we see are (mostly) serving this holiday’s present-day purpose.   

President’s Day originally began as a remembrance of George Washington’s birthday on February 22nd.  It wasn’t an official holiday until 1879, when Rutherford B Hayes signed it into law.  At that time, it still wasn’t called President’s Day, but only remembrance of Washington’s Birthday.  As time passed there were some who wanted to also honor Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday falls on February 12th.   There was much push back from Virginia legislatures, Washington’s home state, and various proposals were blocked.  It wasn’t until the Uniform Monday Holiday Act (yeah, it’s a real thing) in the 1960’s that would move Washington’s Remembrance to the third Monday in February.

And the main purpose of this act?  To move several federal holidays to predetermined Mondays to give us – the people – a three-day weekend.  Yes, we have this weekend to rest, rejuvenate, and spend time and money in our economy.  One statistic I came across showed merchants see a 12 ½ % boost in sales over this weekend.  To help you do your part, here is a quick link with just some of the items on sale this weekend:

Oh, fancy that: mattresses and bedding top the list!  The way my back has felt the past few months, I may be in the market for a new bed.  I better get moving before the sales end.

Please remember that we are “here” and available for you as well.  If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email.  If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them. 

As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy! 

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