Valentine

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Introduction

Very deep is the well of the past. Should we not call it bottomless?
(Thomas Mann, Joseph and His Brothers, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966:3)

Culture is like an onion, layer growing upon layer. Tradition, a Latin word meaning “what is handed on,” often carries with it various elements from these layers. So it is with Valentine's Day. Even in its contemporary practice we may hear the echo from the “well of the past,” the echo of the Roman saint and martyr from whom we get the name for this day, the echo of the Roman feast of courtship and the echo of love's compelling stories.

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