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As children, we were told that Valentine's Day was about love. We exchanged cards and candy with our classmates, and sucked on sugary hearts that said, "Be Mine." But sweetness wasn't always a part of the picture. Valentine's Day has its origins in ancient Rome's feast of Lupercalia, which celebrated fertility in a way that would make Fifty Shades of Grey seem downright sentimental.

On Lupercalia, men would sacrifice a goat and a dog, get drunk, strip naked and whip women into fertility with the hides of these freshly killed critters. Instead of being wined and dined, women would willingly line up for the once-a-year chance to land a naked, puppy-killing drunk dude.

This tradition changed with time, and the 3rd Century martyrdom of two Saint Valentines, each on different February 14ths, led to a more palatable, fully-clothed, fur-friendly replacement for Lupercalia. But children didn't start making heart-shaped cards out of red construction paper and doilies until romance was introduced. 

Around the time of the Crusades, poet-musicians regaled their listeners with tales of true romance and courtly love. These charismatic troubadours sang epic poems about chivalrous knights, their deeds, and the ladies who adored them. Because of these stories, people wanted passion. They wanted to fall in love. Arranged marriages became old-fashioned.

A Radical Re-Thinking of Valentine's Day
By Tom and Linda Peters


But a single episode of The Bachelor can point out some of the ways that courtly love has gone awry. We believe that to be happy, we need to find a charming prince or a perfect princess. We expect to have a major conflict in the second act that can be quickly resolved with candlelight, an expensive gift or a sincere attempt at rhyming poetry. We're led to believe that if our partners truly love us, they should be able to automatically identify and fulfill all of our hidden needs and desires.

We've forgotten that these ideas are based on make-believe.

The troubadour's songs transport us to a world where knights and ladies never argue over whose turn it is to do the dishes. Animated fairy tales and salacious reality shows teach us what to look for in an ideal mate. But expecting a real-life partner to act like a fictional character has gotten in the way of living happily ever after. What if the perfect love was based on unconditional acceptance of each other and ourselves? What if we claimed February 14th as an opportunity to see and reveal our authentic selves?

When we focus on loving who we really are, we will be happier with the reflections that we see in our partners. Love is about acceptance and connection. When we accept our partners without condition, we are free to more fully enjoy our journey together.

Acceptance and respect might not make compelling television, but they are the unsung heroes of our most treasured relationships. They bring us quiet moments of peace and contentment, and the deeper connections that deliver sustenance to our souls. Please join us this month in celebrating their sweetness.

Happy Valentine's Day! Our gift to you is "The Water Is Wide", one of the oldest love songs we know. We've arranged it for mountain dulcimer, guitar, bass, and a bowed stick bass called an EU6, made by NS Design. _________________________________

Tom and Linda Peters are a married couple who write and speak about new age and healthcare topics. Tom, a composer and GRAMMY® nominated performer, writes new music for classic silent films. Linda is an Ayurveda Wellness Counselor and the author of Way of the Whale, a novel about a trapped orca whale who uses ancient wisdom to transcend the perils of captivity.  

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