The discourse of capitalist influence on religious holidays in contemporary cultural criticism has primarily been focused on ‘putting the Christ back in Christmas.’ However, this scrutiny should be placed on all religious holidays, including saints’ days. As the feast day of Saint Valentine is soon approaching, these are a few ideas to put the Valentine back in Valentine’s Day.
The ancient origins of the feast day are thought to be the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, intended to purify the city and promote health and fertility. Observed on 15 February, male goats and a dog were sacrificed on the Lupercal alter by members of the Luperci priesthood before an offering of salted mealcakes made by the Vestal Virgins and their foreheads were anointed with the blood from the sacrificial knife and wiped with milk-soaked wool and forced to laugh. As this is a pagan festival, we do not recommend this practice. However, in solidarity with the shared appropriation of our respective faiths, we recommend to the Wiccans and other 20th-century pagan revivalists out there a Galentine’s Day celebration of goat cheese paired with Maialino’s olive oil cake made with extra virgin olive oil and a milk face mask. For those abstaining from animal products or otherwise repulsed by lactation, we recommend substituting the dairy-based face mask for one produced by Milk Makeup.
The common practices of secular Valentine’s Day are associated with legends of Saint Valentine performing clandestine Christian marriages. This revisionist propraganda arose in 14th century England, notably from the heretic Chaucer’s Parlement of Foules. In order to return to the true roots of the feast of Saint Valentine, we must turn to the namesake of the holiday, Valentine of Terni, who is the patron saint of Terni, asthma, and beekeepers.
One of the most archetypal ways of commemorating a saint is through pilgrimage. I suggest Mytilene on the island of Lesbos, which houses some relics of Saint Valentine at the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady. The island is known as the home of the poet Sappho, whose poem ‘Ode to Aphrodite’ I recommend as your daily devotional for the day regardless of your geographic location. For those celebrating at home, I recommend taking a page out of the customs for the feast of Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. We suggest celebrating by blacking out on a cultural beverage of the locale, a Sangiovese from Umbria (or rather a sanguis Christus for all you transubstantionists out there).
We must on this day keep our asthmatic brothers and sisters in mind. Instead of a box of chocolates or a dozen red roses, the most sacred gift for this day is arguably an inhaler. If you’re really looking spoil the asthmatics in your life, consider an Epipen for those also with severe allergies and living in fear of anaphylaxis.
In fact, we recommend a flower boycott in the name of Saint Valentine, to preserve the flower resources and protect Big Honey from the results of their displacement native pollinators. As the patron saint of beekeepers, Saint Valentine ensures the sweetness of honey and the protection of beekeepers; one of the biggest issues facing the beekeeping profession is the competition between honeybees and the native bee species which has led to the spread of disease and poor nutrition within hives. To ensure the possibility of Honey Nut Cheerios for the future generations, we must ensure that there are enough flowers for your local honeybee hobbyist to divert themselves from the perpetual pain that we call life.
As our religious institutions come increasingly under attack by the capitalists who venture to secularize our hallowed holidays, we must protect and re-sanctify our sacrosanct saints’ days beginning with the saint’s day of Saint Valentine.
 We recommend those not partaking in Lupercalia to make the Maialino olive oil cake, as it is objectively the best olive oil cake recipe. We also recommend that you eat this cake as a meal garnished with a pinch of flaked sea salt, hence making it a salted meal cake.
 Sangiovese is a wine grape varietal whose name means ‘blood of Jupiter.’ In the theological debate about the presence of Christ during the Eucharist, the transubstantionists believe that the bread and wine literally become the body and blood of Christ.
Illustrations by Edinburgh based artist and illustrator Jennifer-Jane van der Merwe. Follow her on Instagram.