Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Today's Holiday

For those of you who aren't aware, today is an obscure American holiday. While many of you celebrate it in some way, shape or form, the lack of media coverage and difficulty in finding any sort of commercially produced products may make it easy to overlook.

I'm speaking, of course, of Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is held every Feb. 14 in remembrance of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre on this day in 1929.

On this morning, nearly ninety years ago, seven members of the gang led by George "Bugs" Moran were lined up and executed by members of Al Capone's gang.
Of course, many of the familiar trapping of Valentine's Day have their roots in this incident. It's a well known fact that we get the term "Love-Bug" from Bugs Moran, but fewer people know that the now-familiar image of puckered lips on so many Valentine's Day cards is in remembrance of Frank "Tight Lips" Gusenberg who was among the slain that day.
People often send each other flowers to reproduce the funerals that took place because of the bloody rivalry between Capone and Moran.
St. Valentine's Day Massacre cards are often covered in gruesome symbols of the slayings. There are exposed hearts, pictured on the page as if they were ripped out of a dying man's body, and the cards themselves are often colored either the deep red of arterial blood or the pink color of the blood splattered on the white-painted garage wall.
After the massacre children used to throw things at each other, flinging rocks or stale candies much like the gangsters pelted each other with bullets. This practice has toned down as time has gone by and is symbolized by the giving of gifts (jewelery for rocks, and chocolate for the stale candy) to one's worst enemy. North American culture being what it is, the recipient of these gifts is often a wife or girlfriend. Of course, because the killing was based around the competition in the bootleg liquor industry, a bottle of expensive wine may be among the gifts sent to one's enemy.

I hope this history lesson was interesting. I was very excited to discover this obscure and fascinating holiday several years ago. I highly recommend that you research it more on your own.


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