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Valentine’s Day is coming up!  Do you have your gifts purchased?  Your plans made?  A skip in your step and a flutter in your heart?

Or do you plan on closing the blinds and keeping your sanity as safe as your credit card?

A recent Time article lays out the quantities of dollars, time, and effort Americans will spend to impress their loved ones this year.  $17.6 billion will be spent on candy hearts and restaurant bills, and 4 million people will be part of a marriage proposal (some as spectacular as this).  But not everyone jumps for joy on February 14.  Some, in fact, wish for the holiday to be cancelled altogether.  (Well, not really, but it’s a funny way to think about it).

Whether you’re a lover or a cynic, there’s a lot to consider about the history of love and the (often questionable) behavior it inspires.  A particularly sharp entry in the World News Digest almanac sums up the matter of Valentine’s Day very nicely.  (What else did you expect from a librarian?)

Did you know that the modern holiday began way back in Roman times with the festival of Lupercalia?  And that this festival involved animal sacrifices to the god Lupercus and public whippings of celebrants?  (The more lighthearted might be happier to know that this pagan festival also began the tradition of wearing your sweetheart’s name on your sleeve).  The holiday was then claimed by Christians in the third century A.D., when two Romans named Valentine made gallant efforts on behalf of lovers (which were much more family-friendly).  They became martyrs on February 14, 289.

The article goes on to reflect on the subject of love in the arts and popular culture – from Shakespeare to Humphrey Bogart to Princess Diana.  It also provides a rather encouraging bar graph of the rising divorce rate in the United States.

But what kind of librarian am I??  Read!  Read on for yourself.  You know where to come with questions.

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