Holly Johnson: Let’s take a look at real love

Published 6:30 am Saturday, February 13, 2021

In honor of Valentine’s Day this weekend, I researched the history of the day we now traditionally celebrate with red roses and chocolate.

There is a Saint Valentine recognized in the Catholic Church who is honored with a feast on Feb. 14, but there is little connection to love in that story.  There was a pagan holiday called Lupercalia that maybe, sort of, kind of celebrated love.  You can look that one up yourself.

Author Geoffrey Chaucer is credited with making Valentine’s Day a romantic holiday through his poem featuring birds called “The Parlement of Foules.” It may not have been intentional but other writers followed his lead and wrote romance into the calendar.

The English language uses the word “love” to represent many different types of feelings.  Although Valentine’s Day has been viewed as a day primarily meant for those in romantic love, I think we should take it as a day to celebrate love in general. When we say we love something it means we have great regard for whatever we are referring to.

In his writings, George Hormel expressed love for his community, his wife and family, and for his company.

“On my first trip out of Des Moines, I traveled through Iowa and southern Minnesota and fell in love with both at first sight. I had no time for play, but Minnesota’s cool, blue skies and meadows flecked with brilliant flowers were like water to a thirsty man.”

George expressed his love for his wife Lillian in elaborate verse.  “… she brought into our partnership a love of music and books, rare good sense, insight into human nature, and the patience and understanding necessary to surmount the problems and uncertainties of our first years together. They were not easy years for either of us. They brought sickness and death, struggle and worry — the hard things to which the flesh is heir. But for me, they were made endurable by her never-failing help in any capacity in which she could serve.”

Although George talked freely about the exacting nature of the meat packing business, he found the formula for success: “Dirty tools, scraps on the floor, waste and uncleanliness could only be eliminated by a real love of order and pride in workmanship.”

His family was a source of love and a priority for George.  Every letter we have in our collection is closed with an expression of his affection such as, “I am, with love, your brother” “With love to all at home.”

However you choose to celebrate on Feb. 14, remember, love can be expressed for a variety of things and in endless ways. Be creative!

Upcoming Events

Just Say I Do Pop Up Wedding Event

Sunday, Feb. 14

One spot remaining.

History Happy Hour-Let Me Introduce You to Lizzie Hormel

6 p.m., Monday, March 8

Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society and Friends of the Library.  $5 for nonmembers, limited capacity.