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A Romantic Solution

CBS.com's Gary Paul Gates presents a modest proposal about celebrations in the month of February and explains the origins of Valentine's Day.


I suggest that we get rid of this bland "Presidents' Day Observed" business, and restore the practice of honoring Lincoln on his real birthday, Feb. 12, and Washington on his, Feb. 22.

But, I hear you asking, what about our desperate need for a three-day weekend in February?

OK now, calm down, because I have a solution for that, too. The other part of my proposal is to release Valentine's Day from its permanent fixture of Feb. 14 and move it to the Monday each year nearest that date.

As I'm sure you know, the original purpose of that holiday, before it was taken over by hearts and flowers and other gestures of cheap romance, was to honor Saint Valentine, a Christian martyr who died in a Roman prison in the third century AD.

But Feb. 14 has nothing to do with Saint Valentine's birth, or even the date of his death. It actually was the date of an old Roman holiday called "Lupercalia" that celebrated the legendary founding of the ancient city by Romulus and Remus.

Well, that has nothing to do with our American heritage, and as for the religious connection, I suspect that since Saint Valentine was a devout Christian, he had great respect for the liturgical calendar, and therefore would welcome the honor of seeing his day become a Movable Feast, like Easter and Pentecost.

So there's my proposal, and the next step is to take it up with the "holiday police" as soon as I can find out who and where they are.

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Written by Gary Paul Gates

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