We're almost at the second-most crassly commercial holiday of the year: Valentine's Day. You are legally entitled to be bitter if you're single. If you're not, it's likely you'll get sucked into the festivities somehow. And that's what we're here for. After reading this SYW, you'll have the knowledge to make a fancy-looking (but not-so-difficult) dinner that will draw your beloved swooning into your arms. And you might get a possible side dish of nookie.


So whose big idea was it to keep you from hanging out with your pals while your loverboy/girl bursts into tears because you bought the wrong type of flowers? How were you supposed to know there was an enormous difference between white roses and white rosebuds! The responsible parties: those early Christian converts.

In the days of yore, happy Roman pagans celebrated a spring festival called "Lupercalia" every February 15th. Oh sure, there was a bit of lusting and groping going on, but c'mon· we've all been freshmen. The Christians were not happy about all the hornplay, so they set about (surprise!) trying to convert the pagan holiday into a similar Christian one, but with more rules. There were a few unsuccessful attempts ("Hey, instead of drawing a maiden's name out of a hat and fornicating with her all year, why don't you draw a saint's name and spend the next year emulating his virtue! Then let's all have some soda and pie!").

Eventually, everyone compromised by celebrating one saint in particular - St. Valentine. Valentine had been martyred on February 14th c. 270 AD for secretly marrying young couples after the Emperor Claudius II had decreed that no potential soldiers could saddle up with a love interest (because that could keep them from battle). Because the dates coincided so neatly, and because of Valentine's participation in keeping the romantic flame alive, the Christians thought this would be a nice substitution. And several centuries later, we're still groping strangers in the forest, so the tradition seems to have won out.

So now you have a nice bit of trivia to share with your beloved as you gaze at each other over candlelight. Or you know who to curse as you stand up to your elbows in burnt grease while your darling's stomach growls plaintively in the next room· that is, if you foolishly forget to read this SYW!