February in the northern Hemisphere can be cold and dark, so it’s nice to know that there are two holidays that might warm the heart this month: Valentine’s Day and Metamour Day. Let’s take a fun, interesting, and educational look together, shall we?
The History of Valentine’s and Metamour Days
Valentine’s Day: February 14
Before you dismiss Valentine’s Day out of hand, perhaps you’d at least like to know the history of this “Hallmark holiday”. Most articles point to the Roman feast of Lupercalia, which was traditionally held February 13-15 as the origin of Valentine’s Day. This feast was accompanied by “fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery” (Britannica). Similarly, RealSimple.com notes that in “Ancient Greece, people observed a mid-winter celebration for the marriage of the god Zeus and the goddess Hera.”
These pagan holidays were later associated with the name Valentine by the Catholic Church who honored the martyrdom of several men with this moniker. In particular, RealSimple.com recounts the tale of Saint Valentine who was “a Roman priest who performed weddings for soldiers forbidden to marry…” further noting that he “wore a ring with a Cupid on it—a symbol of love—that helped soldiers recognize him. And…handed out paper hearts to remind Christians of their love for God.” Additionally, Britannica includes an ancient legend that attributes the priest Valentine in 270CE with having signed a letter “from your Valentine” to his jailer’s daughter, whom he had befriended.
According to an NPR article, “Around the same time, the Normans celebrated Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant ‘lover of women,’” which seems to have further confused things due to the similar sounding names. The holiday’s additional correlation with romance was the belief in England and France during the Middle Ages that February 14 was the start of the aviary mating season (History.com).
English poet Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with being the first to write a poem about St. Valentine’s Day in his “Parliament of Foules,” written in 1375: “For this was sent on Seynt Valentyne’s day / Whan every foul cometh ther to choose his mate” (ibid).
Yet, the custom of written valentines didn’t begin until after 1400. The “oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt” (History.com). From that point forward, the sending of such romantic missives became commonplace and “by the late 1700s commercially printed cards were being used. The first commercial valentines in the United States were printed in the mid-1800s” (Britannica).
Building on the success of printing factory-made cards, “in 1913, Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, MO, began mass producing valentines” (NPR). But, while many people lament the “Hallmark holiday” aspect of Valentine’s Day, in an NPR article, sociologist Helen Fisher notes, “‘This isn’t a command performance…If people didn’t want to buy Hallmark cards, they would not be bought, and Hallmark would go out of business.‘’ Point well taken.
Metamour Day: February 28
More recently among the polyamorous community, a new holiday has been specifically created to recognize not the object of our affection, but rather that of our partner’s object of affection, namely one’s metamour. For those unfamiliar with the term, “A metamour is the term for a partner’s partner.” Eli Sheff further adds, “As friends or chosen family members, metamours are linked through a polyamorous relationship but are not in a romantic relationship with each other. Rather, they are members of the same polycule (a family/small network of people united around a shared polyamorous relationship, not all of whom are lovers but share lovers in common) and hang out together to various degrees.”
In recognition of these unique connections, Metamour Day was created in 2019 by the National Coalition for Sexual Freedom (NCSF: a non-profit organization dedicated to consensual sexual freedom and focuses especially on consensual non-monogamies and kink/BDSM), designating February 28 (14 x 2) as the day in question. However, the idea dates a few years earlier; Positively PolyAnna notes that in 2017, she dreamed of such a holiday and bought the URLs MetamourDay.com and WorldMetamourDay.com in anticipation of her dream.
Moreover, Dr. Sheff, who has been studying polyamorous families with kids for more than 20 years, has found “that the metamour relationships make or break the family over the long term. These emotionally intimate, non-sexual chosen family relationships are so important in polyamorous families that I made up the word polyaffective to describe them.”
Yet, as NCSF notes, Metamour Day “is not about forced compersion. Rather, “by promoting Metamour Day, NCSF hopes “to foster positive relationships between you and your metamours, whatever that might look like.”
Here’s to wishing you, and yours, and theirs a beautiful Valentine’s Day and Metamour Day, if you celebrate one or either. We absolutely love doing the work here that we are passionate about — helping make the world a safer place for us ALL to love WHO we want, HOW we want, building relationships and families in a way that works for each of us — free from stigmatization and ridicule. Know that we see you, we support you, and we celebrate you and your love and loves!
Until next time …
With love and gratitude,
Kitty Chambliss, PCC CPC, ELI-MP
Founder, Loving Without Boundaries
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