“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Bible 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Thinking about what love is, one easily arrives to the conclusion: there are many different kinds of love. In today’s world Valentine’s Day is all about love and romance, and although we should really not need a special day to show love to our adored ones, the commercial world does not let it slip, and humanity has no choice but to go with it. The history of St Valentine’s Day, from its pre-Christian origins, however, has an especially dark side, involving nudity and whipping, quite opposite from its modern-day presentation as a commercial free-for-all driving huge sales of chocolate, flowers and jewelry. In ancient Rome, 13, 14 and 15 February were celebrated as Lupercalia, a pagan fertility festival. This seems to be the basis for a celebration of love on this date, but it was marked in a significantly different way in those days. According to Noel Lenski, classics professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder, young men would strip naked and use goat-fleece or dog-skin whips to spank the backsides of young women in order to improve their fertility.
The Christian Valentine of Terni who was a martyred in the reign of Emperor Aurelian, was made Bishop of Interamna (now Terni) in AD 197 and died not too long after. He was apparently imprisoned, tortured and killed on the Via Flaminia in Rome for his Christianity by the order of a Roman prefect, Placid Furius. According to legend, on February 14, Valentine was beheaded, not only because he was a Christian, but also because he had performed a miracle. He supposedly cured the jailer’s daughter of her blindness. The night before he was executed, he wrote the jailer’s daughter a farewell letter, signing it “From Your Valentine.” Another legend tells that this same Valentine, well-loved by all, received notes to his jail cell from children and friends who missed him.
My paternal Grandparents
Valentine’s Day was celebrated in my family simply as a day filled with love, cakes and celebration as it was my beloved maternal grandmother’s birthday. Celebrating together as a family, just for the sake of being together, still marks every important event in my family, and every other time we have the chance to just be so. It is a common misconception that family love is developed with unconditional feelings and understanding. Possibly it is one kind of family love. However, whenever there is friction in our family relationships, it provides opportunities to realize our differences and accept that, although we can never fully understand each other, nonetheless we accept and love each other very much. This is the legacy of my great, loving and hardworking grandparents.
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” Bible, Exodus 20:12
My maternal Grandparents
20 digestive or rich tea biscuits
100 g leftover vanilla sponge
125 g butter
200 g condensed milk
2 tbsp cocoa
2 tbsp rum
125 g desiccated coconut
About 200 g chocolate, for dipping
crumble the sponge. Put the biscuits in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling-pin until crumbs are created. Put the butter and condensed milk in a pan over a low heat, until the butter melts. Allow to cool slightly. Add the biscuit, sponge, cocoa powder, rum and desiccated coconut to the melted butter mixture and stir to combine. Form the mixture into truffles, dipping hands into water between making each ball, that will help in preventing the mixture sticking to fingers. Cool slightly in fridge, but not for too long. Melt chocolate in microwave, then dip cake pop sticks into chocolate and stick them into truffle balls about half way deep. Let it set. Finally re-melt the chocolate and dip truffles. Decorate by choice. Chill the truffles until ready to serve.
“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” Charles Kuralt