As a concept, it’s what web designers call “sticky.” Valentine’s Day, I mean. And “sticky” has nothing to do with the expected chocolates or anything physical at all. Stickiness, as I hear it used in these antiseptic clean-room days, refers to text, or an object, that stays in the same place as you change web pages. Now, I’m no techie, in fact I’m probably a neo-Luddite, but this kind of stickiness is useful in thinking about St. Valentine’s Day. We hardly need a reminder that humans are sexual beings. Biology does quite well in that department, thank you. Every year around this time, however, when the weather has been bleak for weeks on end, Valentine’s Day rolls in to give us hope. I’ve noticed this as I’ve been out jogging. The past couple of weeks the birds have been singing. Me, I’ve mostly been shivering indoors as yet more cold rain falls.
Every year, I suspect (I haven’t stopped to look) I write about St. Valentine’s Day. Valentine was an obscure saint associated, in the popular mind, with something saints shunned. Such an embarrassment is this sexy saint that he was never mentioned in the liturgy of February 14th at Nashotah House in the days I was there. (Given that most of the student body was male, there may have been a wisdom in that, but that’s a story for another time.) Religions, as I used to tell my students in later settings, all have something to say about sex. The two ideas, like monsters and religion, are tied closely together. Scholars tend to blush rather than explore this.
There are so many things going on in the world that I could write about. There are new scholarly developments every day. Still, I keep coming back to this minor holiday. Well, it’s not actually minor in the realm of economics. Anything to get people to spend money in the middle of February! Valentine’s Day is the embarrassing child of the celibate church. Without somebody named Valentine, who may or may not have been martyred, we wouldn’t have this uneasy reminder of winter’s impending end. Instead of embracing him, however, many branches of Christianity second him to punch-out cards sold to school kids as teachers remind them that everyone gets a valentine. What a sticky concept! I’d been intending to write something about the state of the world. I guess that can wait for another day. Right now, as the sun begins to awake, I’ll sit hear and listen for the birds to start their sticky springtime song.