MENU: A DINNER FOR YOUR VALENTINE

BE MINE

There are competing theories about the origin of Valentine’s Day.

First, the pagan theory. In ancient Rome, the ides of February (February 15) was marked by the festival of Lupercalia, dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, which welcomed spring with fertility rites. Members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, gathered in a sacred cave where it was believed that the infants Romulus and Remus, orphan twins said to have founded Rome, were suckled by a she wolf, or lupa. A goat would be sacrificed and it’s hide cut into strips and dipped in the sacrificial blood. Priests would then take to the streets gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide to encourage fertility in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, the young women of the City would place their names in a large urn. Local bachelors would each draw a name and the couple would be paired for a year, often leading to marriage. Some postulate that the names placed in the urn were the first Valentine cards.

Next, the saintly theory. At the end of the fifth century Pope Gelasius I abolished Lupercalia, which he declared to be un-Christian, and replaced it with Saint Valentine’s Day. Valentinus, from the Latin word for worthy, strong or powerful, was a popular name from the second through the eighth centuries AD. The official Roman Catholic roster of saints lists nearly a dozen named some permutation of Valentine, including a Pope Valentine who served only 40 days around AD 827. The Valentine most often referred to as the inspiration for the modern holiday was a third century Roman temple priest. When the Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied the unjust decree and continued to marry young couples in secret. For this rebellion he was beheaded near Rome around AD 270. According to legend, before his death the priest signed a letter to his jailer’s daughter, whom he was said to have healed from blindness and, later, fallen in love with, “from your Valentine.” This, the theory goes, was the first valentine card.

Finally, the literary theory. Whatever truth was contained in the saint’s legend, Valentine was portrayed as a heroic, sympathetic and, most notably, romantic figure. By the Middle Ages he became one of the most popular saints in England and France. (His skull, adorned with flowers, is still displayed in Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Cosmedin.) During the Middle Ages it also was commonly believed in England and France that mid-February was the beginning of the mating season for birds, adding love birds to thoughts of Valentine romance. The first recorded association of Valentine’s Day with romantic love was the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer’s 1375 Parlement of Foules, written to honor the first anniversary of the engagement of England’s King Richard II to Anne of Bohemia:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”
(For this was on St. Valentine’s Day,
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.)

Although Chaucer often took liberties with history, no records exist of links between Valentine’s Day and a tradition of courtly love before his poem received widespread attention, leading some to propose that he invented the holiday we know today with this poem, the first true Valentine card.

Although Valentine greetings were popular during the Middle Ages, formal Valentine cards did not appear in Europe and England until the 1500s and commercially printed cards were not exchanged until the late 1700s. Commercial Valentines first appeared in the United States in the 1800s and the first mass produced cards, created by Esther A. Howland (known popularly as the “mother of the Valentine”) arrived in the 1840s. They were elaborate concoctions made with real lace, ribbons, and “scrap” pictures of Cupid (the Roman god of love), hearts (thought to be the seat of human emotion) and, of course, love birds. The American Greeting Card Association estimates that today about 145 million Valentine cards are sent annually in the United States, second only to the yearly number of Christmas cards exchanged.

 

MENU;  A DINNER FOR YOUR VALENTINE

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA MINIATURE VOL AU VENTS WITH SHRIMP
13a. Soups, vegetable, beet and fennel soup 1 BEET AND FENNEL SOUP
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA PUMPERNICKEL AND RYE BREADSTICKS
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA SPICE-RUBBED ROASTED BEEF TENDERLOIN WITH RED WINE SAUCE
Vegetables, beans, French, blanched, with tarragon 1 FRENCH BEANS WITH TARRAGON
Vegetables, potato gratins, scalloped potatoes baked in cream 2 SCALLOPED POTATOES BAKED IN CREAM
Salads, vegetable, two hearts salad (hearts of palm and artichoke hearts) 1 TWO HEARTS SALAD
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA BOURBON CHOCOLATE ESPRESSO BUNDT CAKE
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA BOURBON SAUCE

 

VALENTINE DUETS PLAYLIST

A Fine Romance (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong)

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)

Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)

All Right, Okay, You Win (Tony Bennett and Diana Krall)

All the Way (Celine Dion and Frank Sinatra)

Almost Paradise (Mike Reno and Ann Wilson)

Always (Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstine)

At Last (Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves)

Baby it’s Cold Outside (Jane Monheit and Steve Tyrell)

Boy from Ipanema (Rosemary Clooney and Diana Krall)

Endless Love (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie)

Fever (Charles Brown and Eva Cassidy)

Fine Brown Frame (Lou Rawls and Dianne Reeves)

Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You? (Eva Cassidy and Chuck Brown)

I Got You Babe (Sonny and Cher)

I’m Confessing that I Love You (Keely Smith and Louis Prima)

It Takes Two (Marvin Gaye and Kim Weston)

It Takes Two to Tango (Betty Carter and Ray Charles)

I’ve Got a Crush on You (Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand)

(I’ve had) The Time of My Life (Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes)

Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong)

Makin’ Whoopie (Dr. John and Rickie Lee Jones)

My Boo (Usher and Alicia Keys)

Peel Me a Grape (Blossom Dearie and Lyle Lovett)

Since I Fell for You (Reba McIntyre and Natalie Cole)

Tea for Two (Keely Smith and Louis Prima)

Tenderly (Joe Williams and Dianne Reeves)

Tonight I Celebrate My Love (Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack)

Unforgettable (Nat King Cole and Natalie Cole)

What’ll I Do? (Joe Williams and Cleo Laine)

When I Fall in Love (Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt)

You Don’t Have to be a Star (Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.)

Your Precious Love (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)

You’re All I Need to Get By (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell)

You’re Just in Love (Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan)

 

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