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Lessons in how to love ourselves while celebrating Lupercalia and the Lunar New Year 2021

You definitely don’t complete me…

Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day, Schmalentine’s Day.

Filling the gaps

They’re trying, they really are. Trying to give us a twist on a blatantly consumer driven modern invention that preys on our false expectation that a partner will somehow complete us. I hate to sound humbug but really, is there a day of the year filled with more disappointment, loneliness and gloom?

I find myself often bringing up the ‘you complete me’ scene in the film Jerry McGuire to my tarot clients. I do it in the context of the futility of looking outside ourselves for rescue. That scene where the Renee Zelwegger character, much and repeatedly betrayed by the eponymous Jerry, says ‘you had me at hello’ falling at his feet despite it all. Urgh. What a pile of old nonsense we’ve been force-fed.

How can a partner magically fill in the gaps, the holes inside us, the yearning, the sadness, the pain of old wounds? Anyone who is in a long-term relationship will attest to the utter falsehood of that narrative. Especially if you are living through this lockdown with them. If anything, relationship shines a (somewhat unflattering) light on our dark places, teaching us the hard way who we are and who we are not. And frankly, if your long-term relationship makes it through lockdown without divorce or homicide involved, you’re doing great.

Lupercalia anyone?

The date coincides with the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia which ran from the 13th-15th of February. This was a time of ritualised purification of the city of Rome, releasing health and fertility through the sacrifice of goats, feasting and subsequent whipping of women with flayed goat skins in order to help them to conceive. The strands of goat skin were called Februa, from which we get this month’s name. The men doing the whipping were running around naked. Another reminder that spring, warmth and nature bursting with life are just around the corner, even if this sleeting frozen wintry moment doesn’t feel like it.

Lunar New Year reset

Meanwhile, before we even get to the festival of Love/pursuit of love/feeling single as heck/dissatisfaction with partner (delete as applicable), next Sunday we have the Lunar New Year on Friday with New Year’s Eve the night before. This is celebrated throughout Asia and commercialised in UK supermarkets as Chinese New Year to sell you some extra dim sum. It is Chinese New Year or Chunjie, but also Vietnamese Tet, Tibetan Losar and Korean Solnal among many others.

I love this festival and have always celebrated it because of my Vietnamese father. It’s another crack at resetting the year. Starting over afresh. Letting go and clearing out the old and marking intentions for the new. Before the New Year we make sure all debts (that can be) are paid. Grudges released.

Feasting and fireworks

There is lots of feasting throughout the whole period. Fireworks and loud noise to clear out the old energy. And no cleaning or sweeping to be done for the first three days of the New Year (bonus), as it gets rid of the new shiny energy that entered the world along with the stroke of midnight. Most importantly though, the first seven days set the year. Despite lockdown try to be in touch with the people you want to spend time with (when we can) this year (conversely avoid long boring conversations with your accountant like the plague, and if you hate zoom quizzes, then don’t do any for this first week).

Eat the foods you love, do some dancing round your kitchen, get on your yoga mat if that floats your boat. Sign up for that course you haven’t got round to yet. It’s a fantastic moment for starting as you mean to go on.

Love yourself and meet your own expectations

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to love yourself.

On that note, back to Valentine’s Day. You really really do not want to be spending the day feeling grumpy, especially at your partner, or lack of. Because this year, it falls in that first seven days of the Lunar New Year period. So unless you want to spend the year with those feelings, they are to be avoided.

How can you make absolutely sure that doesn’t happen? Meet your own expectations. If you’re single commit to treating yourself like a queen (or king). Get yourself the flowers that you love. Indulge yourself. Spend the day relaxing with a fabulous book and some hot chocolate.

Make it work for you

What if you’re with a partner? Do the same thing! Make Valentine’s Day a celebration that works for you. Don’t wait to be completed, and then feel cheesed off when you aren’t. Either issue failsafe instructions or create the Valentine’s Day that you want for both of you, yourself. You could always re-enact Lupercalia in your front room if you fancy a giggle, just make sure the curtains are drawn.

Let this be the Valentine’s Day when we meet our own expectations. We all need celebratory dates to punctuate our lockdown gloom. Go all out pink hearts if that is your thing. But do it for yourself. Because it’s you that completes you. And that is a wonderful thing.

Happy New Year. Sophie x


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