What we call Valentine’s Day has been celebrated for centuries in many cultures under many names.
Early Roman rituals worshiped Lupercus, the Roman god of fertility, who blessed the young men’s rites of passage. Often when Roman armies occupied conquered countries they introduced the festival of Lupercalia in which boys drew names of girls out of an urn to determine their partners for the day or even longer.
Pope Gelasius decided to replace the pagan ritual of Lupercalia with the celebration of St. Valentine because a man and a woman living in intimacy was thought to be too immoral. As the St. Valentine story goes, the saint approached a couple that was arguing and asked them to make peace. After offering a rose, he told them both to hold the stem and pray to God that their love would live forever. The couple then asked St. Valentine to marry them. The news spread and many couples decided to make a pilgrimage to see the bishop on the 14th of each month, until the bishop died in 273 B.C.
Long before the time of Saint Valentine, Cupid played a central role in the ancient Greek and Roman celebrations dedicated to lovers and lovemaking. Venus had a son named Cupid, the impish archer and “go-between” we know of today. Cupid came to represent the many aspects of love: playful, tender, sexual, and passionate. His invisible arrows of sweet destiny would pierce the hearts of both mortals and gods alike, making them fall hopelessly and helplessly in love, oftentimes beyond all hope or reason!
We know Cupid as a smiling mischievous child armed with his bow and arrow ready to pierce lovers’ hearts with romantic love. Originally, he was shown as a handsome young man with a bow and arrows. But, the Victorian era wanted to help make Valentine’s Day more proper for women and children. So, they tossed out this handsome Roman Adonis guy and made cupid more of a chubby baby!
Since then, Valentine’s Day has been celebrated every year throughout the world, with couples exchanging flowers, sweets and gifts, all with a single objective – to devote 24 hours to the celebration of their love.
In February, come and see how Cupid’s arrows can pierce even the black hearts of three bandits in the melodrama Three Bandits and a Baby – a world premiere opening February 24th!
Diane Silverstein had never heard of the show “Absolutely Fabulous” when she named her aptly-titled gifts and décor boutique in central Huntington Beach. But the fun-loving, irreverent, blonde, champagne-promoting show does give a glimpse into what makes Absolutely Fabulous such a treasure. Absolutely Fabulous is not your run-of-the-mill, Hallmark-style gift shop; they are as fun and irreverent as the show they share a name with.
The variety and uniqueness of products at Absolutely Fabulous is astounding: hand-made jewelry, Miche Bag purses (the ones where you just drop the “insides” of your purse into a new shell, rather than having to dump all of your stuff out!), $10 silk scarves, old-school shaving kits for men, a “Daddy’s Tool Bag” that includes diaper changing equipment, and instructional DVD, face mask and other funny items, rare paintings by successful artists, large crystal chandeliers, crystal perfume bottles, stuffed animal baby bottle covers, piggy banks for kids, “dorm survival kits” for new students, wedding party gifts, rare Disney art and collectibles and decorations and decorative items for every holiday.
Connect with Diane and the crew at Absolutely Fabulous located at 6026 Warner Avenue in Huntington Beach, call (714) 842-1608 or visit www.absolutelyfabulous1.com
Welcome to 2017! Did you make your New Year’s resolutions? It’s a 4,000-year tradition that dates to the Babylonians who started their new years at the Spring Equinox in a 12-day religious festival known as Akitu. The most common resolutions then were to pay up on debts and return things that were borrowed.
Later in ancient Rome, Julius Caesar changed the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the new year circa 46 B.C. January was named for Janus, a two-faced god who looked backwards into the previous year and ahead into the future. Sacrifices were made to the deity, loyalty was sworn to the emperor and promises were made for good conduct for the coming year.
For early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional occasion for thinking about one’s past mistakes and resolving to do and be better in the future. In 1740, the English clergyman John Wesley, founder of Methodism, created the Covenant Renewal Service, most commonly held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. They included readings from Scriptures, singing of hymns and served as a spiritual alternative to the raucous celebrations normally held to celebrate the coming of the new year.
While the root of the practice was originally political and religious, most of today’s resolutions are personal self-improvement goals. Although almost half of us will make New Year’s resolutions fewer than 10 percent will actually achieve them. That dismal record probably won’t stop people from making resolutions anytime soon—after all, it’s a 4,000-year tradition!
Your heart is pounding, your hands are clenched, and terror permeates your very being. You are scared to death, petrified to look at the screen, read any further or continue to watch the actors on stage - but it does not get any better than this!
Do some people get an endorphin high from being scared? Yes, some researchers do believe that the typical physical reaction to suspenseful movies, books or plays results in the release of opiate endorphins. Addiction to suspense is tied up in biology. That is, the story revs up the body’s sympathetic nervous system, inducing stress and anxiety. In some, the stress is a welcome thrill even if it makes you scream. Speaking of screaming did you know that the term bloodcurdling dates back centuries to medieval times. Recent studies show that extreme horror scenes from plays, books and movies often increase a blood clotting factor in humans! This may be in preparation to stop bleeding in a real crisis.
The payoff comes when the story is over. We are flooded with a sense of relief, which makes us feel good and safe once again. Perhaps we are all just looking for the same thing—a periodic jolt to the nervous system and a roundabout peek at our innermost fears, all within the comfort of a secure environment.
To quote Neil Gaiman as to why we love a good ghost story: “Fear is a wonderful thing, in small doses. You ride the ghost train into the darkness, knowing that eventually the doors will open and you will step out into the daylight once again. It’s always reassuring to know that you’re still here, still safe. That nothing strange has happened, not really. It’s good to be a child again, for a little while, and to fear — not governments, not regulations, not infidelities or accountants or distant wars, but ghosts and such things that don’t exist, and even if they do, can do nothing to hurt us.”
Prepare for an endorphin high, get ready for blood curdling screams and keep an aspirin handy to ensure your blood keeps flowing when you come to the Playhouse this October.