Political Musings February 3, 2014: Michelle Obama talks Scandal, Valentine’s Day, health care with Ryan Seacrest

POLITICAL MUSINGS

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OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 113TH CONGRESS:

OP-EDS & ARTICLES

While President Barack Obama embarked on his two-day economic opportunity policy tour, First Lady Michelle Obama went on her own official trip fundraising in California from Wednesday, Jan. 29 to Friday, January 31, 2014. While on the trip to…Continue
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History Q & A February 14, 2012: Why do we Celebrate Valentine’s Day? The Roman Origins & Christian History of Valentine’s Day

HISTORY Q&A:

 

Valentine’s Day: Why Do We Celebrate It? (Hint: Naked Romans)

Source: National Geographic, 2-13-12

An illustration of the Roman Lupercalia festival.

Ancient Roman priests are depicted striking women in a Lupercalia fertility rite.

Illustration by Labrouste Del., Mary Evans Picture Library/Alamy

John Roach for National Geographic News

Where did Valentine’s Day come from? (Think naked Romans, paganism, and whips.) What does it cost? And why do we fall for it, year after year?

Valentine’s Day History: Roman Roots

More than a Hallmark holiday, Valentine’s Day, like Halloween, is rooted in pagan partying. (See “Halloween Facts: Costumes, History, Urban Legends, More.”)

The lovers’ holiday traces its roots to raucous annual Roman festivals where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility, said classics professor Noel Lenski of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The annual pagan celebration, called Lupercalia, was held every year on February 15 and remained wildly popular well into the fifth century A.D.—at least 150 years after Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Lupercalia was “clearly a very popular thing, even in an environment where the [ancient] Christians are trying to close it down,” Lenski said. “So there’s reason to think that the Christians might instead have said, OK, we’ll just call this a Christian festival.”

The church pegged the festival to the legend of St. Valentine.

According to the story, in the third century A.D., Roman Emperor Claudius II, seeking to bolster his army, forbade young men to marry. Valentine, it is said, flouted the ban, performing marriages in secret.

For his defiance, Valentine was executed in A.D. 270—on February 14, the story goes.

While it’s not known whether the legend is true, Lenski said, “it may be a convenient explanation for a Christian version of what happened at Lupercalia.”

(Valentine’s Day Pictures: Animal Pairs.)

Valentine’s Day Cards

The first Valentine’s Day card was sent in 1415 from France’s Duke of Orléans to his wife when he was a prisoner in the Tower of London following the Battle of Agincourt, according to the association.

During the Revolutionary War, Valentine’s Day cards—mostly handwritten notes—gained popularity in the U.S. Mass production started in the early 1900s.

Valentine’s Day Candy:

Fifteenth-century Aztec emperor Moctezuma I believed “eating chocolate on a regular basis made him more virile and better able to serve his harem.”

The Origin of Valentine’s Day

Valentine's Day

The origin of Valentine’s Day is mysterious. Valentine’s Day comes from a figure in Christian history but the exact identity of St. Valentine is difficult to prove. Tradition holds Valentine was a priest in Rome, who aided and sheltered Christians in persecution under Claudius II. In addition, he married Christian couples under the newly found faith of Christianity. Valentine was caught, and sent to Rome to renounce his faith. Valentine was be beaten with clubs and was be beheaded. He was executed on February 14, sometime around year 270.

One tradition holds that Valentine himself sent the first “Valentine” card:

While in prison, it is believed that Valentine fell in love with a young girl — who may have been his jailor’s daughter — who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today.

Several “Valentine” names are mentioned in history with a connection to St. Valentine: One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern day Terni, Italy), or  martyred priest in Africa. Two of these two individuals seem to have suffered in the latter half of the third century and were buried on the Flaminian Way outside Rome, but at different distances from the city.

Valentine's Day

To confuse the understanding of Valentine’s Day and St. Valentine, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day around 498 A.D.  Many Christian historians believe that Pope Galasius did this to Christianize the pagan holiday of Lupercalia, which was a bloody and strange observance.

All of this uncertainty might lead one to believe that St. Valentine was just a made up saint. A figure of the imagination of Christians looking for a story. A myth. Such inconsistencies cause doubt and leave a rather murky past for this holiday. But, one piece of evidence may prove that St. Valentine was an actual historical figure.  A catacomb was discovered from the third century that was dedicated to Valentine.

Regardless if there was one or two individuals named Valentine, it is clear that ancient Christians believed in Valentine as an actual historical figure that they dedicated a tomb to in his honor.  His story inspired early Christians to continue their faith under persecution. It wasn’t until famous writers, such as Geoffrey Chaucer, who made it popular to send love notes to lovers on Valentine’s Feast Day.

Full Text February 9, 2012: First Lady Michelle Obama’s Interview with Access Hollywood on “Let’s Move” Anniversary & Valentine’s Day with the President

POLITICAL SPEECHES & DOCUMENTS

OBAMA PRESIDENCY & THE 112TH CONGRESS:

POLITICAL QUOTES & SPEECHES

First Lady Michelle Obama Talks Keeping Malia & Sasha On ‘Let’s Move!’ Campaign, Valentine’s Day With President

Source: Access Hollywood, 2-9-12

The First Lady Michelle Obama with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, Iowa, February 9, 2012
The First Lady Michelle Obama with Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, Iowa, February 9, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama is continuing to campaign for “Let’s Move!,” her initiative to help stop childhood obesity, and on Thursday, in a brand new sit-down interview, she told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush, that campaign starts right at home.

When Bush asked if Malia, 13, and Sasha Obama, 10, are allowed to call up the White House kitchen with an order of burger and fries on occasion, Mrs. Obama said she and President Barack Obama have set limits on the youngsters.

“No, absolutely not,” Mrs. Obama told Bush. “They couldn’t do that at home when we lived in Chicago. They can’t pick up the phone and order anything. They’re kids. That’s the point that I make to them: You live in the White House, but you’re a child.

“They have a set menu, they have a set diet that they have,” she continued of her push for healthy eating habits. “They can’t go in the refrigerator and get what they want. They can eat as much fruit and vegetables [as they want], and they can have at that, but not a lot of snacking. So, we set some boundaries.”…READ MORE

For the rest of Mrs. Obama’s answer and more about her ‘Let’s Move!’ campaign, tune into Access Hollywood on Thursday and Friday night. Check your local listings.

Noel Lenski: The Dark Origins Of Valentine’s Day

Source: NPR, 2-13-11

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

Enlarge Hulton Archive/Getty ImagesA drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

A drawing depicts the death of St. Valentine — one of them, anyway. The Romans executed two men by that name on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D.

Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.

Those Wild and Crazy Romans

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right…. READ MORE

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