February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

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Here’s a few thoughts on why St Valentine’s day gives us hope for a rebound in the US economy.

“Happy Valentines Day

A mate of mine has just got into terrible trouble because his Missus found the Tinder app on his phone. If you have Tinder on your phone and you are shacked up with someone, it’s not good news. Tinder is a hook up app – need I say more?

But interestingly, Valentine’s Day was a Roman version of Tinder. In fact, it was what every teenage Irish boy dreamed of when I was a young lad. If Carlsberg did days, it would be Juno Februarta– the Roman Valentine’s Day which fell on the 14th of the month. February comes from Februata which itself derives from the name of the Roman goddess “Febris”. This chick wasn’t any old Goddess. Febris in Latin means “fever” – but it was the fever of love, women, fertility and sex.

When you were struck down by “febris”, you became demeneed and could do whatever you liked, with whoever was around.

On the 14th of February 14 billets (small pieces of paper, each of which had the name of a teenage girl written on it) were put into a container. Teen-aged Roman boys would then choose one billet at random. The boy and the girl whose name was drawn would become a “couple,” joining in erotic games at feasts and parties celebrated throughout Rome. After the festival, they would remain sexual partners for the rest of the year. This custom was observed in the Roman Empire for centuries. These billets were the original Valentine’s cards.

This orgy of indiscriminate, teenage licentiousness was triggered by the coming of Spring, the pagan time for fertility when  nature turns its back on the harsh winter and celebrates the coming of longer days, warmer weather and new life.

Of course such a debauched, bacchanalian feast freaked out the up-tight Christian Church, which knew it couldn’t stop the natural urges of the punters but realized that it had to, at least, disguise the origins of Juno Februata. So what did it do?

The church, once it converted the masses, chose its most sanctimonious saint and replaced the lascivious Juno with the martyred St Valentine who was, needless to say, chaste and virtuous.

However, the people never forgot Juno, nor Febris and the uncontrollable lust associated with February 14th which signalled a mood change, the up-beat arrival of Spring and the end of the darkness of the long winter.

In the global economy, we too have had an exceptionally long and harsh winter. Weather-wise, the US has frozen up, while in Europe we have been submerged. These factors have weighted heavily on economic output because, despite all our technology, like the Romans, our moods are still affected, to a much leeser extent, by the weather.

It remains to be seen whether we go back to our heathen roots and respond to this deep winter and the associated weak data with a Tinderesque outburst of spontaneity in February and embrace hedonism as we move on to the next big pagan festival of Mardi Gras in March.

For the moment the winter weather is having the same effect on us as it did the Romans: it is subduing us.”

 

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  1. Bring in a Kilkenomics hook-up app this November please David.

  2. Bamboo

    Thnaks for the article. I admire the way you are able to relate the St Valentines’s day to economics. Or for that matter relate everything to economics.

    I now live in a predominantly Chinese community.

    The Chinese community also have their own version of a St Valentine’s day which is originally called “Qixi Festival” but now that the Chinese community is so westernized it is often called St Valentine’s day as well. It is originally aimed at the girls rather than the boys. It is the last day of the Chinese New Year and this year it happens to be on the 14th of Feb. It will be a different date every 19 years I believe. It is aimed at the girls rather than the boys and tradition is that the girls throw mandarins in the river to make a wish for a good partner.
    As we all know there is no such a thing as modest partying (or modest anything) among the Chinese.

    Unlike our Christmas and New Year festivities, everything come to a stand still of what I can see the first few days or first week.
    I guess it is all about hooking up with a partner. Beside the spectacular fireworks and food – the Chinese New Year celebrations are expanded from innocent and traditional family gatherings to full-scale business hooking up and networking.

  3. cooldude

    A consistent theme on this blog over the last three years has been the mythical recovery in the US. First we had the “green shoots” tale three years ago and ever since we are constantly being told that this recovery is just around the corner. Well there is no evidence of any recovery in the US or anywhere else for that matter. There are 47 million people on food stamps in the US, the only type of jobs being created is low paid part time jobs that actually require food stamps to simply survive on, they are running a deficit in excess of $1 trillion per annum to add to debts of $17 trillion, they have unfunded liabilities in pensions and health care of over $100 trillion, they are buying over 70% of their own bonds through QE which is overt and plain monetization of debt, their retail figures suck on every measurable level yet somehow we are supposed to “believe” in some phantom non existent recovery which no one in main street US knows anything about.

    A bit more reality from these articles would be a help. QE only benefits the elites on Wall Street and acts to the detriment of all other sectors of society. A bit more reality and less “hope” would be a welcome change to these never ending articles on phantom recoveries.

  4. mediator

    Hi David,

    The tone of this article seems to me to be quite positive w.r.t. those old style Roman parties.

    You were probably writing on the hoof/ stream of thought when you came up with the following

    “Of course such a debauched, bacchanalian feast freaked out the up-tight Christian Church”

    Those “up-tight” christians again ruining the peoples fun.

    I somehow doubt if you or indeed many of the “right on” population of Ireland would be happy to see their teenage daughters or sons bring given random pieces of paper and then getting down to “a debauched, bacchanalian feast” especially given all the concern at what does down at wesley rc which is probably a much tamer version.

    Just some food for thought

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