Monday, February 13, 2017

Valentine's Day and Murder

I’m not sure what it is about Valentine’s Day that makes me think of murder. Especially considering we’ve placed such a specifically romantic weight on the day, all love and chocolate hearts and couple adoration displayed in every restaurant and jewelry store and candy shop.

Can you tell I’m not romantic?

Here’s where we (who follow the less cloyingly sweet and more deadly train of thought) get to the good part: there’s a history of the holiday that’s dark and rather disturbing. How delicious.

According to some scholars, the person eventually dubbed Saint Valentine defied Roman Emperor Claudius II. That most brilliant of leaders decided to outlaw marriage because unfettered men, free of such worthless things as wives and children, made better soldiers. Because cutting off your population’s growth is an excellent idea, Your Imperial Ceasarness.

Needless to say, this decree totally went against Valentine’s whole idea of love for all and plenty of babies to prove it. Didn’t end well for poor Valentine, though, did it? Claudius had the rebellious priest beaten and then beheaded. Yikes. Talk about dying for love.

Wait, though. There’s another version, too. This one says Valentine may have been cut down while assisting the escape of his Christian flock from the horror of Roman prisons. Brave and all that, but diamond ring material...?

The most touching—and appropriate to the Day (yes, I capitalized that on purpose because I felt like it)—says he was imprisoned himself and sent the very first Valentine’s Day card to the daughter of the man who jailed him. I wonder if she said she’d be his Valentine?

Of course, there are more benign origin stories, that of appropriated festivals and Christians absorbing cultures and blah blah blah. As a writer, I can’t help but imagine the sinister and dangerous legends are the truth behind all that bubbly and candlelight. Utterly charming.

All of this guesswork at history leaves a decidedly murderous taste in the mouth. Good thing death goes so well with chocolate.

Like cozy mysteries? Find the first in the Fiona Fleming Cozy Mysteries series, Bed and Breakfast and Murder, HERE.

AND because it’s Valentine’s Day, book two launches with a bang. Find Chocolate Hearts and Murder HERE.

Happy VD!

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