12 Feb Love And Marriage
February 12 – Marriage
The idea to establish a Day of Marriage Agencies and to mark it on almost the eve of Valentine’s Day belongs to Ukraine, of all places. The credit goes to a marriage agency in my native city of Kiev. In existence only since 2010, this Day is now recognized in many countries.
Because, whichever way you look at it, all roads lead to marriage and an agency is the shortcut between soulmates.
This shortcut has 300 years of history under its belt. Matrimonial agencies came into play following the birth of newspapers. They took over the “good wife” search from bumbling bachelors. They lent a helping hand to World War I soldiers who longed to have a woman waiting for them at home.
To lonely clerks, teachers, typists, and seamstresses of the newly-teeming 1920’s cities. To the 1960’s and 1970’s swingers.
The agencies progressed from paper questionnaires and – oh, horror! – land-line phones to speed-dating, reality shows, texting, mail-order brides, and websites advertising membership perks. Viewed as last-resort, bohemian, cool, sophisticated, and everything in between, they mirrored and encouraged the earthshaking shifts in attitudes and adjusted to the high-tech revolution.
But they have always remained cupids to their clients.
February 14 – Love
February is a month dedicated to love. A Roman fertility festival celebrated on February 15 gave it its name that means purification. Another festival, the Feast of Lupercalia, took place on February 14 and included pairing young boys and girls for a year. The names of girls on a slip of paper were dropped into an urn from which a boy would choose a name. These matches often ended in marriage.
Sensitive to competition, Christianity moved to rename pagan holidays after Christian martyrs. In 496, the Pope dedicated August 14 to a priest called Valentine. Two centuries before, Valentine had defied a Roman emperor who banned marriages to attract more men into his army as married men did not want to leave their families behind. When discovered secretly marrying couples, Valentine was executed on February 14 and later canonized.
Another notion strengthened the candidacy of this day as the day of love – it marked the beginning of birds’ mating season.
Universal love did not always flow unimpeded on February 14. In 1349, two thousand Jews were burnt to death that day in Strasbourg and the rest were expelled from the city. This event went down in history as the Strasbourg Massacre and was one of several hundred similar persecutions during the Great Plaque. It was not an opportune time to remember St. Valentine considering that the pandemic was the fault of Jews.
Over time, Valentine’s Day grew in popularity. And that’s to put it mildly. An estimated 145 million Valentine’s greeting cards are exchanged each year. They say that if this holiday had not been invented, card companies would have created it. Plus flowers, chocolates, dinners, gifts, and, naturally, marriage proposals.
Happy Day of Marriage Agencies!
Happy Valentine’s Day!