Tuesday, February 06, 2007
St. Valentine's Bay
I promised I would come back and tell you about St. Valentine's Day since I missed St. Agnes' feast day. I have to warn you that what I'm about to tell you could be considered superstitious. You'll be okay as long as you remember to call on St. Valentine during the process.
The question is which St. Valentine do you call on? There are two.
I was always under impression that the St. Valentine that St. Valentine's Day is celebrating was a bishop who visited people in prison and eventually landed in the pokey himself. While he was there he cured the jailer's daughter of blindness and sent her that nice note we discussed. (Did we discuss that note? I know I talked with someone about the note....."love, Valentine" which is how we ended up with love notes, according to some. My brain is like cottage cheese. Large curd.)
When I was a girl in Catholic school the old nuns told us that the reason we have candy on St. Valentine's day is that St. Valentine brought candy, or treats of some kind, to the prisoners when he visited the slammer. (He could have brought them oranges. Oranges were a big treat back in the day. I always felt sorry for the people for whom oranges would be a treat when I was a child. I think I still do.) I thought the St. Valentine/candy thing was the whole story of Valentine's Day, period. The old nuns were never wrong.
But the truth is, not only were they sometimes wrong, they sometimes flat out made things up.
For example, the sixth grade nun was famous for telling her students each year the tale of the tied up woman. No one could wait to land in her sixth grade class to hear the story.
It seems there was a woman whose scalp itched terribly. It became so intense that she had to be tied down so she wouldn't scratch the top of her head right off. Someone had to watch her so she wouldn't wriggle loose.
The tormented woman begged her keeper to untie her for just one moment so she could scratch her head and get some relief. The keeper took pity sake on her and turned her loose and she scratched the top of her head right off.
There was an ant's nest under there. According to the old nun, an ant had crawled up the poor woman's nose, apparently then gone back and got all the other ants and talked them into building a nest between her scalp and her skull.
I don't think that happened. Really. Do you?
So it turns out not only did the old nuns leave out a lot of the St. Valentine's story, they left out a whole other St. Valentine. There was another St. Valentine. This one was beloved by the little children and when he was imprisoned the children threw love notes over the prison wall to him.
Both stories have prisons and love notes. I say it's a toss up as to who which St. Valentine you want to go with. Both Valentine's are in heaven, available to pray for you.
And to help you find out who is your intended.
So here's what you do. On the eve of St. Valentine's Day Eve you need to get your hands on five bay leaves. Now I'm not much of a cook, so I don't know if you can get your hands on fresh bay leaves, but if you can, I recommend that you do so, because you are going to pin these bay leaves to your pillow, one in each corner and one in the middle.
It's that middle one that concerns me. Those old dry bay leaves in the jar would be miserable to sleep on, let alone the pin.
And by the way, think ahead and use safety pins all around.
I guess you could flip the pillow over and sleep on the bay leaf free side. But...the idea here is that after you do this you will dream of your intended. Since you dream in lighter stages of sleep it seems to me that sleeping on the middle bay leaf and it's safety pin might just help you dream more. Just a thought.
You can see how this all borders on the superstitious, which is a sin. But I think if you keep praying for the intercession of St. Valentine (whichever one) you'll be fine. The bay leaves will just remind you about the saint and his feast day and God's will and all of those perfectly fine things.
If you just want to pin some old bay leaves to your pillow and snore away, forget it.