Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, January 30, 2015

Brainbuster – Make your brain tingle!

Are you “love” smart? You’d better be because Valentine’s Day is coming up soon, and your honey is going to be watching and waiting! Be sure you know all there is to know about this “lovely” day by testing your knowledge – and surprise and maybe even impress your true love!

1. During the Middle Ages, there were superstitions that said you could determine what kind of man you’d marry by the first bird seen on Valentine’s Day. Seeing a robin meant marriage to a sailor, a sparrow to a poor man, and a goldfinch to a man of wealth. What did it mean when a girl saw a dove? A kind man; a soldier; a clergyman; a cheapskate.

2. According to an old European belief, certain members of the animal kingdom celebrate Valentine’s Day as well. What annual event is said to occur on Feb. 14? Garter snakes have a “mating ball”; birds choose their partners for spring; garden snails send out “love” signals; hens lay their eggs after a long eggless winter.

3. Romans had an annual mid-February fertility ritual. Women would put their names in a box from which every man would then draw one name. The two would become a couple for the duration of the festival, and perhaps for the entire year. Which deity was this “love lottery” meant to honor? Ceres, protectress of women, motherhood, and marriage; Juno, goddess of marriage; Cupid, god of erotic love; Diana, goddess of nature and fertility.

4. Before it became fashionable to give chocolates and flowers, what was the traditional gift given by a man to a woman on St. Valentine’s Day? A pair of gloves; a piece of jewelry; a hair ribbon; a young goat.

5. According to one legend, St. Valentine was a Christian who was executed for performing marriages after the Roman Emperor Claudius II outlawed the institution. Why did the emperor ban marriages? Not enough men were enlisting in the army; to reduce the birth rate; so that men’s first loyalty would be to the gods, not to their families; all of the above.

6. An “X” on a card or letter represents a kiss. This practice has its origins in medieval times, when those who could not write would sign documents with an “X”. How did this practice become associated with a kiss? The signer would kiss the “X” to show their sincerity; the “X” symbolized the cross, or love of God; the “X” symbolized two mouths touching; none of the above.

ANSWERS: 1. A kind man. If a girl saw an owl, it was ominous, and she might not even get married. 2. Birds choose their partners. 3. Juno, the goddess of marriage. 4. A pair of gloves, symbolizing the request for a lady’s hand in marriage, was the traditional gift a man would give to his sweetheart on Valentine’s Day. 5. Not enough men were enlisting in the army. At the time, Rome had conquered most of Europe as well as parts of Asia and Africa. Maintaining the peace in such a vast territory required that large numbers of soldiers be sent far and wide for many years at a stretch. As it meant leaving their families for what might turn out to be decades, married men were less likely to enlist than single ones. Therefore, the Emperor Claudius II thought if he banned marriage, more men would opt for military service. 6. The tradition of using an “X” to represent a kiss began with the practice of allowing those who could not write to sign documents with an “X”, which originally represented the sign of the cross. Before the documents were witnessed, the signer would kiss the “X” to show sincerity. Thus, the letter “X” at the end of a card or a letter came to represent a kiss.