The origins of Valentine's Day- Lupercalia

I was never a fan of the Valentine's Day. I don't know why, it didn't matter to me if I was single or not- I just find it silly. Too pink and too fake for my standards. I am a true believer that love is meant to be celebrated everyday. So today, we are going to talk a bit about Lupercalia- the pagan celebration, on which our modern, commercialized Valentines originated.

Lupercalia were hosted in Rome, in the month of February- took place to honor the she-wolf and to please the Roman fertility god Lupercus, and then slowly turned into a festival celebrating fertility and the coming of Spring! And what a festival it was!

The celebrations started with a sacrifice of two goats and a dog- it hurts my heart to even write it down but that's how it was. Then the blood would be smeared on foreheads of two young man, after that it would be wiped with a cotton dunked in milk- the young men were meant to laugh during that part. Maybe I'm okay with just getting a box of chocolates after all.

The ancient origins of Tinder?

Before Christianity, some believe that around this time a love lottery would be a part of the festivities. Women would put their names in an urn- then men would pick one name and that was a way for the couple to pair for the time of the festival, or sometimes even longer. Historical evidence is not big enough for us to be sure it's true, but if you ask me- it sounds like something ancient Romans would do.

What we actually know did happen is this: feasting began after the ritual sacrifice. When the feast of Lupercal was over, the Luperci, the ones that served the Wolf-God would cut strips, also called thongs or februa, of goat hide from the newly-sacrificed goats.

They then ran naked or nearly-naked around Palantine whipping any woman within striking distance with the thongs. Many women welcomed the lashes and even bared their skin to receive the fertility rite; it’s open to speculation what the lashes represented. I do find it funny. It reminds me of a Polish ritual of spraying cold water on young girls around Easter time- to bless them with fertility and longevity. Just imagine this happening now on the streets of your city- smells like conviction!

Then Christianity came and the current ruler of Rome, decided to switch from picking girl's names from an urn to picking a saint's names. Each men was meant to try to learn and adapt the qualities of the saint they picked- to be honest, after running naked and wiping women it sounds very reasonable. Somewhere around the way it was decided that Saint Valentine is going to be the patron of love- and that is a very simplified story of the Valentines we know today. How are you going to celebrate yours?

13 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All