Creative suggestions for unique gifts symbolic of love. Dine in candlelight savoring elegant recipes provided. After dinner, reflect on the Pagan roots of the holiday.
Valentine Day’s roots are in Pagan Rome. February 14th was a festival day devoted to Juno, Queen of the Gods and patroness of marriage. Girl’s names were written down and placed into jars for the boys to draw them so they would become a couple for the Lupercalia the next day that honored Lupercus, the God of Fertility. Creative presents and a dinner made with selected special recipes can make the celebration memorable.
Unique Pagan Valentine Presents
Flowers are one of most popular gifts, especially long stemmed red roses. Roses symbolize love as do amaranths, asters, carnations, chrysanthemums, ginger and honeysuckles. Instead of cut flowers, give potted plants, silk flowers, incense, scented candles and oils or figurines.
Crystals signifying love are all pink crystals, agate, alexandrite, amber, amethyst, beryl, calcite, chrysocolla, emerald, jade, lapis lazuli, lepidolite, malachite, moonstone, olivine, pearl, rhodocrosite, rose quartz, sapphire, sard, topaz, tourmaline and turquoise. Jewelry with silver or copper settings, the metals symbolizing love, and the crystal itself are excellent gifts. Other ideas, using crystals as decorations, are serenity fountains, plants, terrariums, tower candles, groupings of tapers, glass containers filled with them and aquariums for those who like aquatic life.
Jewelry, figurines or pictures of cupids, goddesses and gods or symbols representative of love.
Special Pagan Valentine’s Dinner Recipes
Champagne, Asti Spumante, Freixenet or other sparkling white wine accompanies the repast. Dessert is chocolate mousse made from a mix.
- Baked Brie: Put a 4 ounce round of brie with white casing intact on ovenproof plate and spread with margarine. Cover with slivered hazelnuts. Bake at 350 degrees for about ten minutes or until center is soft. Serve warm with apple and pear slices.
- Beef/Mushroom Consommé: Add 1 cup sliced mushrooms to 1 quart hot beef bouillon. Simmer for 5 minutes. Before serving, add 1/4 cup dry sherry.
- Artichoke Heart/Heart of Palm Salad: Mix together 16-ounce cans of quartered artichoke hearts and sliced hearts of palm, 1/4 cup sliced Kalamata olives, 1/4 cup tarragon vinegar and 3 tablespoons olive oil. Refrigerate overnight. Serve on bed of lettuce.
- Sautéed Crab Meat: Melt 3 tablespoons of margarine with 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice. Add 1 pound flaked cooked crab meat. Sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Serve with wild rice.
- Chicken Piccata: Pound 2 boneless chicken breasts with a meat mallet until flat. Dredge in flour. Sauté in 2 teaspoons each olive oil and margarine until done. Remove from pan. Add 2 tablespoons each chopped fresh parsley and fresh lemon juice and 1/2 cup dry white wine. Stir, scraping flour into sauce and heat. Don’t boil. Return chicken to pan, cover and keep warm on very low heat. Serve with angel hair pasta.
- Flank Steak with Béarnaise Sauce: Make béarnaise sauce according to the package instructions. Keep warm. Sprinkle salt in a frying pan. Heat on medium for 1 to 2 minutes. Put 1 pound flank steak into pan, broiling on each side until meat reaches desired doneness. Diagonally slice the meat into thin pieces to ensure tenderness. Serve with béarnaise sauce.
- French Fried Onion Rings: Thoroughly blend together equal amounts of flour and beer or club soda. Amounts may vary due to flour’s absorbency. Cut 1 large onion into 1/8 inch slices. Separate into rings.Dip rings into batter and deep fry at 375 degrees until golden. Drain on paper towels and keep warm. These can be made the day before and reheated. Broccoli, cauliflower, thinly sliced carrots and mushrooms can be prepared this way.
- Twice Baked Potatoes: Cut 2 baked potatoes in half. Scoop out insides and mash with 2 tablespoons margarine, 1/3 cup milk or enough for desired consistency, ¼ cup bleu cheese and three slices crumbled cooked bacon. Fill potato skins with mixture and dot with margarine. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Green Beans Almondine: Cook 1 (16 ounce) package frozen French cut green beans according to directions. Drain. Melt 2 teaspoons margarine and sauté 3 tablespoons slivered almonds until golden. Add beans and heat through.
- Cauliflower Paprika: Cook 1 (16 ounce) package frozen cauliflower according to directions. Drain. Melt 2 teaspoons margarine and 1 teaspoon paprika together. Sauté cauliflower until golden orange and crusty.
Reflections on Pagan Roots of Valentine’s Day
There are three traditions that are believed to be the roots of the holiday. In Ancient Rome, there was the Lupercalia. On February 14, priests met at the Cave of Lupercal in the Palatine Hill, where a she-wolf was believed to have nursed twin founders of Rome Romulus and Remus. Vestal Virgins offered blessed salt cakes. Priests sacrificed a goat and a dog. The next day, men lightly lashed fields of crops and women with a goatskin strip, februa, in the belief this made them fertile. The lashings were called februatio. Both Latin words meant to purify and are the roots of the word, February.
The second tradition is that when wolf packs roamed the wilderness outside of Rome where shepherds kept their flocks, the God Lupercus was believed to keep the herdsmen and their animals safe from them. In February, the Romans had a feast, the Lupercalia, to honor Lupercus. This celebration continued to be held after wolves no longer were a threat.
The third tradition greatly differs from the others. According to this one, the festival honored Faunus who was the God of Herds and Crops
Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem and Metal Magic, Scott Cunningham (Llewellyn Publications, 1990)
Copyright Jill Stefko . Contact the author to obtain permission for republication.