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About The Sunday Oregonian. (Portland, Ore.) 1881-current | View This Issue
ST. VALENTINE'S- DAY Js perhaps
the least undcrstoo'd or all the days
of the year that have special sig
It Is -popular, jt Is observed. Swains a
legion make It the occasion, for sending
tokens to, their lady loves, -ypt not many
Everybody knows what Christmas
means, or Independence Day, Thanksgiv
ing Day, JSaster, but "the origin of St.
Valentine's Day, or even its meaning, is
a riddle but few have solved.
Yet it is one of the oldest of the holi--days.
Only Christmas and Easter go fur
ther back into antiquity. These dayu
have been observed ever since there was
religion. But all the rest of the holidays
are but infants, beside the February oc
casion when bolaccd, befringed and be
flowered lo;c tokens arc sent on their
SL Valentine's Day began, somewhere
about the opening of the third century.
3t is a quaint combination of religion and
sentiment. It represents the dual wor
ship of a great man of the church, and
Cupid, the mischievous patron saint of
It was a queer beginning for a great
holiday that people should have united
on the same day to honor St. Valentine
No more dissimilar doities could be
St. Valentine was an early-day martyr.
He died for the church, and In commem
oration of his goodness and piety the
Holy See set aside "February 14 as the
day on which the faithful should do honor
to his memory.
On this day it became the custom to
hold a love feast, which became known
as the Feast of Lupcrcalia. It was at first
a peculiarly religious observance modeled
somewhat on the love feasts that are still
held in many churches, in which mem
bers of the congregation break bread
with each other, as a sign of peace and
From Religious to Secular.
Eventually the young folk passed from
the purely religious feature of the holi
day, and began to give It a somewhat
secular tone. From loving your sister as
a. fellow believer in the tenets of the
church, was not a far step from loving
tier -with the
sort of sentiment that4ThIs custom lasted through many cen-
usually leads to the altar.
So in place of merely breaking bread
together, according to the simple form
of old. the young men inaugurated the
custom of sending beautiful gifts to the
ladles of their hearts. It was easy to
do this without fear of reproof, for cus
tom prescribed that no one could of right
refuse that which came on SL Valen
tine's Day, with all the gentle senti
ments of love and Christian brotherhood
that the festival inspired.
Thus in a gradual way Cupid had come
to usurp the place that SU Valentine had
once held nil alone, and what was orig
inally a time of prayer gradually trans
formed Itself into the season when love
sent out Its messengers and pleas.
The wise old fathers of the church
fought this merging of the religious with
the secular, but the idea had taken a
firm hold on the people, and was not to
be easily abolished. Finally the church
indulrcntly sanctioned the double observ
ance, and to this day Cupid holds the
place ho wrested from the stern old saint
who gave up his life for his religion in
the early days of the faith.
Drawing Iove's Prizes.
For a long time the worship of the day
was fairly divided between St. Valentine
and Cupid. First the people would send
up a prayer for the martyr. Then, this
duty discharged, they would assemble In
the public squares, the maids forming in
line, and youths standing by in laugh
One by one the girls would file up to a
hugo wooden box affixed to a pole ,and
drop in the opening a slip of paper with
her name written thereon.
"When every girl liad deposited her slip
the youths would file up and draw each
one a slip. With palpitating hearts would
Ihey read the names drawn, for to the
maiden thus given them by good SL
Valentine they must be faithful for one
Frequently the girl thus drawn, known
as a valentine, became the wlfo of the
saw... . :WJis.v j:; . . '
O&V tm:' - :
man to :whpse lot she had fallen before
the expiration of the. year of service
SL Valentine gave the excuse for these
sentimental exchanges, but Cupid reaped
the -actual proflL.
In point of antiquity, Cupid was far
the senior of St. Valentine, though the
latter Is also pictured In the dignity
or a gray beard, while Cupid Is a mere
sprite of a boy, with bow and arrow. SL
valentines ora was some 3) centuries.!
uttCK. vupiu reacnes inio me dimmest mist
of the .antiquities. In fact there never
was a time when Cupid did not?xlsL
The little god himself sent the first val
entlnp of which there Is any record,
though Jt "wasn't the kind of missive that
now comes through the mails In a big.
The first valentine was a rather cruel
sort of love message, for it gave pain, but
Cupid had an oxcune. He lacked other
means of -reaching the affections of the
obdurate Psyche, and when maidens re
sult a. zealous suitor, they must expect
That Boy Cupid.
Cupid wag the son of Venus, herself the
Goddess of Love, hence by inheritance ho
had a right to expect to know about the
But while Venus was queen of love, she
also had all the power of experiencing to
the full that other passion that so fre
quently'comes with love Jealousy.
The green monster was stirred in her
breast by the acclaim that greeted the
youngest daughter of a certain King and
Queen; a maiden known as Psyche- All
men raged to possess the hand of 'this
beautiful young girl, and Venus, unable to
see her complete dominion even disputed,
called to her aid Cupid.
"My son," she said, "punish "that beau
ty. Give thy mother revenge. Infuse In
her bosom a love that shall bo unrequited,
so that her eventual mortification may be
as great as her triumph now."
Thus it was that Cupid set out to woo
Psyche, not with real love, not with a
right motive, but animated hy the base
desire to feed a. mother's hatred.
In Venus' gardens were two fountains,
THE SUNDAY OREGOXIAX, PORTLAND, FEBRUARY 11, 1906.
CUPID AS PICTURED BY NOTED ARTISTS
'J - I". .
one of sweet, the other oft bitter wnler. J
rrura incsc v.upia iiua two amoer'Tascs,
and. 'suspending them from his quiver,
hastened to the chamber of Psyche, whom
he found asleep. He poured a few drops
of the bitter liquid on her Hps, then
touched her with his arrow In the side.
Love has queer ways of working out its
destiny, and even the God of Love was
not exempt from Its perils. Psyche awoke
and In his eagerness to escape Cupid
slightly wounded himself with his own
Instantly he Wmself became stirred with
the throbbings of tenderness, and know
ing only the motive to repair the damage
he had done, he poured all of the sweat
water over the startled maiden, and. be
ing Invisible himself, was able to escape
before she could comprehend what had
The two waters, atjd the touch with the
quiver, may be accurately termed the first
valentine of which history affords record.
The valentine of today represents the de
sire of the suitor to win the lady of his
love so did the waters and arrow of
That his first motive was base makes
little difference, for afterwards he came
to Ioe Psyche with genuine loyalty, and.
against the wishes of his mother, married
The Story as We Know It.
Cupid being a god. and Psyche only a
mortal, it was not possible that the union
should be of thf earthly Wnd. Psyche
went to the mountain, conducted by the
Zephyr, and was set down at the palace
Then he came to her In the darkness,
proclaimed her his wife, and fleeing al
ways before the dawn of day. so maneu
vered that while Psyche was filled with
love of him and the Joy or his presence,
she had never been able to see him.
Her envious sisters played on her feel
ings, telling her that, the husband, of her
choice, whom she had" never seen, might
be some dangerous monster, who having
fattened her to his liking, would even
tually feed upon her.
So they persuaded Psyche to the plan of
stealing upon Mm as ho ilept, and, knife
St; Vatefttinc Was An Early
. Day Martyr and Died
for . the Church.
In hand for protection, to gaze upon his
Psyche followed out this programme but
just as she discovered that her husband
was no monster, but the most beautiful
of gods, she was unfortunate enough to
setU A. drbe of oil from the lamo. It fell
upon bis shoulder and awakened him.
Saddened and angered. Cupid, after re
buking her for her curiosity, vanished.
Psyche wandered alone and- forlorn for
a long time, but eventually Jupiter made
her immortal, and she JWS "n'td to Cu
!d for all ticEB-
5 j$33vjsf SSSHSSSsSSSS
This is the story of Cupid, the real hero
of SL Valentine's day. as we know It.
. Every lover who this year sends his
lady love a card, a letter, an original
poem, candy or flowers for a Valentine
gift, wllf be but unconsciously repeating
the exploit that Cuskl early made with,
the sweet and bitter water and arrow
whose touch brought love.
And that is why his boyish, halt-nude
. figure is on all the emblems of the day.
Ppser for the Professor.
A professor in philosophy was lecturing
ugon "Identity" and had just argued that
other matter substituted, yet the whola
would remain the same. Instancing the
fact that, although every part of our
bodies is changed in seven years, we re
main the same individual?.
"Thon." said a stude'nt. "if T had a
knife and lost the blade and had a new
blade put in it wonid still be the identical
"Certainly." was the reply.
"Then, if I should lose the handle from
the new blade and have another handle
made to fit it. the knife would still be
"That Li so." said the professor.
"Then in that casef." triumphantly re
joined the student, "it I should find tins
old blade and the old handle and have
the original parts put together what
knife would that be?"
Sonic Queer AVagers.
An Englishman named Whalley once
made a unique wager of several thousand
pounds. He bet that in 12 months ha
could walk from Calais to Jerusalem, play
at fives against the walls of the holy
city and walk back to Calais. He won
his bet. and ever after bore the nick
name of "Jerusalem" Whalley.
The Marquis of Queensberry also fig
ured in a curlols little proposition H
wagered 1000 that he could send a letter
50 miles in an hour without use of a
carrier pigeon or the steam railroad. "0 1
Q" won the money. He stationed two
dozen cricketers 60 yards apart and then
handed one of them a cricket ball. In
closed was a note. The 21 men passed
the ball around their circle 60 times and
finished the 50 miles a fv jnlnutea with
in the sDecifled time.