The holiday that we have all either come to love or hate, unsurprisingly, didn’t always revolve around cards and chocolates. The customs that we have all fallen into since we were kids, actually had very different origins than one would think.
Breaking down the holiday, there are actually many different facets that bring it all together. Various martyrdom stories are associated with different Valentine’s of the past. For the most part, the Catholic Church chose to honour them during the month of February, which then led to the naming of the annual celebration. Afterwards, it was all tied together with an ancient ritual celebrated by the Romans.
Lupercalia, the fertility festival, was a yearly celebration for the Romans in honour of the god of agriculture. According to myth, it was also a time to celebrate the Roman founders Romulus and Remus, who were both raised by a she-wolf. There were various aspects to the celebration, most of which, did not make the cut into the 21st century. One such practice involved cutting up animal hides into strips and dipping them into sacrificial blood. They were then slapped against the bodies of women, believing it would allow them to become more fertile for the year. Women would actually line the streets to have their turn as the progression passed through.
The fun part came towards the end, when singles throughout the city would pair off in honour of the festival through random selection via draw. Many times this resulted in successful marriages.
Today, the day is obviously celebrated a little differently, with no bloody whippings of animal hide required. People get to partake in the exchange of tokens of affections with their loved ones, and a plethora of money is spent trying to make that special someone in your life happy. After Christmas, Valentine’s Day is the second most popular holiday for sending cards to other people. Approximately 150 million cards are exchanged, and a total spending of $18.6 billion takes place every year!
So for those of you that will be single for this Valentine’s Day, don’t fret. In fact, relish in the fact that you’re not about to drop some mad cash on someone, just to say that you love them. Valentine’s Day can be a very exciting holiday when you have that significant other in your life, but remember, the day was originally for all the single people to hook up! So really, instead of being sad, what you should really spend the day doing is stripping apart goat hide and finding someone to smack it with…kidding.
Wakanda IRL — What Could Go Wrong?
Apparently a lot.
We’re all coming out of Marvel’s latest release on a high. Yes, Black Panther was an amazing movie. Yes, the soundtrack was lit, and yes, it would be really cool if a place like Wakanda actually existed IRL!
Well it does…kind of.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is lush with resources of cobalt. It’s not the vibranium that was used to make Captain America’s shield, but it’s important nonetheless. The sometimes forgotten metal plays essential roles in our day to day lives. Smartphones, laptops, and electric cars all run off of lithium-ion batteries, all of which use cobalt as a key component. From uses in cancer treatments to the construction of alloys for aircraft engines, we have taken this metal and integrated it into many everyday uses.
Which is great, a little different from Wakanda, where the stores of vibranium were a well kept secret from the rest of the world, despite all the amazing creations that it led to. However, Wakanda as a country was also better off then the DR Congo has ever been.
Colonization by the Europeans in Congo began in the late 15th and early 16th century. From the exploitation of their natural resources, to suffering years of civil unrest, the people of Congo have constantly suffered from times of turmoil. Genocide, slave trading and child labour, are but a a few of the horrors the country has been forced to face. Since 1998, five million people from the DR Congo have died from war or disease. In an article released by The Guardian, it was stated that children as young as the age of seven were being forced to mine for the cobalt that gets used in most household brands today.
As more awareness is created and the realities of the situation in the DR Congo are brought to the forefront, we can only hope that those with the power to make a difference step forward. Apple, Sony and Samsung, all companies that require sources of cobalt for their products, have made claims to take steps against any supplier that violates human rights.
The world was given a chance to get this right the first time. With bountiful resources, a beautiful country with even more beautiful people, the ‘real life’ Wakanda had started off with much opportunity and potential. It took an unstable government, vicious dictators, and unethical capitalists to bring the DR Congo to the state it has now become. Black Panther’s Wakanda paints a radical vision for all of us, of what it could have been.
The World Mourns the Loss of a Great Mind: Stephen Hawking
On March 14th, 2018, the world had to say goodbye to one of the greatest mind’s of our generation, Stephen Hawking.
“It would not be much of a universe if it wasn’t home to the people you love.” – S. Hawking
Professor Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with a rare case of motor neuron disease at the age of 21 and was only given two years to live. Despite the continual deterioration of his condition, he was able to live out his life to the age of 76 and continue to do the work that he so loved.
Author of renowned A Brief History of Time, and known for his work on relativity and black holes, Hawking was able to take his research to new levels despite being wheelchair bound and forced to use a voice synthesizer to communicate.
According to his official website,
“Professor Stephen Hawking ha[d] thirteen honorary degrees. He was awarded CBE (1982), Companion of Honour (1989) and the Presidential Medal of Freedom (2009). He [was] the recipient of many awards, medals and prizes, most notably the Fundamental Physics prize (2013), Copley Medal (2006) and the Wolf Foundation prize (1988). He [was] a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.”
All of his award and acclaims notwithstanding, Hawking was also a loving father to three children who gave the following statement following the passing of their father,
“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today. He was a great scientist and an extraordinary man whose work and legacy will live on for many years.”
The world lost a great mind yesterday and as his close friends and family gather to mourn their loss, hopefully it gives some comfort to know, that he will not soon be forgotten.
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