Monday, January 16, 2012

What's Love Got to Do with It?


Ah, February how do I love thee ... let me count the ways: Flowers, restaurant reservations, waxing poetry, hand-cuffs, and... CHOCOLATE!

These are all things we associate with the American version of Valentine’s Day. But just where did this holiday of love spring from? Well, the answer is naturally exactly from Spring, the coming of that is. What better way to ensure the fertility of Spring than by bagging a man in an act of love well before the ripeness of Eostre (Easter—just think eggs, and you know what I’m sayin’) begins?

For instance, in Japan February is celebrated differently—actually, quite a bit more accurately—because it is the women who are obligated to give chocolates and cards to the men of their dreams. Yes, that’s right—women take the first initiative over there. Here is how the girls in Japan rate their chocolate misadventures (taken from the blog

1. Honmei-Choko: Chocolate-of-love; for a lover, husband, boyfriend, partner, etc.
2. Tomo-Choko: From the word tomodachi meaning friends; therefore chocolates you give to friends with no romantic intent
3. Giri-Choko: meaning obiligatory chocolate. Giri-choko are treats with no romantic value that you give to your male co-workers because you have to. After a few nudges, male teachers admitted to me that they would feel kind of bad if they got no obligatory chocolate.
4. My-Choko: Chocolate you buy for yourself.
5. Giaku-Choko: meaning reverse chocolate, where boys give chocolates to the girls. I asked dozens of high school boys if they gave giaku-chokos and only one actually did. Word says it will be more popular next year.

But never fear, the boys have their day to woo a heart’s desire on March 14th which is called ‘White Day’ (pun on Americans? Ha, ha …maybe!), and they are obligated to give the girls choko-goodness!

An interesting fact I came up with while researching Valentine’s Day in Japan is the name: Valentine=Barentain, which sounds an awful lot like Japan’s Shinto goddess Benzaiten. Benzaiten is the goddess of love, wisdom, arts, music, fertility, and good fortune, and she is one of the esteemed Seven Gods of Fortune, and being the only female of the seven.

Of course the Valentine’s Day we have come to recognize has its own ancient roots, and this does not involve a certain Saint—because let’s face it—which saint do you know who promotes sex? Saint Dominatrix maybe! Okay, let’s go back further to the Germanic and Greek/Roman gods.

Let’s talk about Juno. She’s this powerful chick who’s associated with marriage and love as well as war. I can see where she’s coming from, once in a while a little tiff can lead to some kick-ass steamy catchin’ of the fuzzies. So around February, the Roman’s would celebrate Juno Fructifier—juicy! And then the following day, they would celebrate the feast of Lupercalia, a feast honoring the god of fertility. I bet those parties were ROCKIN’!

The coming of Spring is after all the time of love, sexuality, and procreation. In Russia, you were not allowed to strike the ground with a hoe until after the spring equinox, as the earth was considered pregnant. The Spring Equinox today is in March, but in the past it has fallen in February. According to the ‘old calendar’, Imbolc (celebrated in Scotland and Ireland) was originally held on the 12th of February, with ties to the goddess Brigid, who is the equivelant of the Norse/German goddess Freyja.

In many traditions it is speculated that the goddesses of this particular time are moon associated, to coincide with the lunar calendar of old. I don’t know about you, but a moonlit bumpy-bumpy is quite romantic—just like a candlelit dinner—sort of its own representation of the moonlight.

So, does all this talk about lusty shenanigans get you toasty? I hope it does! And if it doesn’t, then here are some things that will:

Some of the best droolicious chocolates I’ve ever tasted:

Fran’s Chocolates:

Theo Chocolates:

Need advice on men and dating, here’s a fun blog to visit:

Jenn Burton’s Blog ‘Have Him Your Way’:

Oh, yes, let us not forget the cocktails!

Rouge Noir: Sultry and spicy, this cocktail originally delighted the court of King Louis XIV in 1632!
1.5 oz. Combier Rouge
.5 oz Combier Orange Liqueur
4 oz. Champagne Brut
1 Orange zest

Pour Combier Rouge and Combier Orange Liqueur in a champagne flute. Top with champagne brut. Garnish with one orange zest.

Rose Drop: A favorite of mine from The Delta Café in Portland, and easy to make.

Ingredients: Imported Rose Water, Vodka, and fresh squeezed lemon. Sweetened and serve with a sugared rim in a martini glass.

Places to take your woman, or man:

If you are in Seattle, then you must take your date before dinner to ‘Dilettante’, ah, I cannot impart on how impressed your date will be by this choice!

In Portland, since I already mentioned it once, I’ll mention it again: ‘The Delta Café’ has some of the best cocktails in town, and the southern comfort food is better than the food I’ve had here in Louisiana. And, the décor is funky fun!

If you are in Louisiana, then a romantic place to set out for is The Columns Hotel in The Garden District of NO. You don’t need a room reservation to go and enjoy the atmosphere. They have a full bar, restaurant, and Victorian tea room.

Can’t forget my hometown of California, and yes, pretty much the whole state is my home. I recommend a valentine’s getaway to Santa Cruz—the beaches are fantastic, and a lot of the time secluded if you drive up north along the coast, so secluded that you can do a bit of nude sun-worshipping. Top your day off with a trip to Boony Doon Vineyard’s ‘Cellar Door’. The great thing about the Cellar Door is it is in a funky little shopping area filled with art and tasting rooms! Plus, the Cellar Door has a steampunk kinda feel to it.

Well folks, I could go on and on with my imparting of Valentine’s wisdom, but I think I’ll save some for next year!

Sending you all kisses of spring, and blessings from the goddesses of love!
Cheers … Nishi Serrano

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