Lupercalia: Bloody Valentine

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Before the usual celebration that we are used today for Valentines Day in the city of Rome, Italy during the 6th Century, a 3-day festival which is more bloody & violent which consists of sexually-charged mating and animal sacrifice. It was called Lupercalia, an ancient pre-Roman pastoral festival celebrated from February 13 to 15 in the hopes of warding off evil spirits and infertility, releasing health and fertility.

According to Roman legend, it had connections with an ancient deity Lupercus who protected herds from wolves, and with the legendary she-wolf Lupa who nursed Romulus & Remus. As a fertility rite, the festival is also connected with Faunus, the Roman god of fertility.

After sacrificing the animals as the Luperci will run around the hill naked or nearly-naked and whip within the distance to the women.

The pagan rites were held on the Lupercal Cave, the Palatine Hill, and the Comitium. The Luperci (brothers of the Wolf) starts the ceremony by sacrificing one or more male goats, and a dog. Two naked Luperci priests will approach the altar, and their foreheads were smeared with the animal's blood using the sacrificial knife, then the knife will be wiped clean with wool soaked in milk, after that they'll expect to smile and/or laugh. As the sacrificial fest follows, the priests will cut thongs (intestines) from the animals. They will run naked or nearly-naked around Palantine Hill whipping any woman within striking distance with the thongs. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile. As the Luperci completes the circuit around the hill, then they'll return to the Lupercal Cave. During the feast, the men will randomly pick a woman’s name from a jar to be coupled with them for the duration of the festival. Often, the couple stayed together until the following year’s festival. Many fell in love and married. Nakedness during Lupercalia lost popularity. The festival became more chaste, if still undignified, and women were whipped on their hands by fully-clothed men.

St. Valentine. Patron saint of Love, Young People, and Happy Marriages

Bloody isn't it? There's a dispute where did Valentine's Day came from, some say he was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II since he organizes secret marriages for Christian couples at that time, the other one was he tutored a blind woman named Julia. Legend says God restored Julia's sight after she and Valentine prayed together. Before his execution, Valentine left a note to Julia saying "From your Valentine" until this quote became part of postcards every Valentine's. Throughout the course of time and history, our modern Valentine's Day removes its religious & pagan past has evolved into one of the most celebrated holidays on the calendar. I'll discuss both of these stories, including Valentine's favorite match-maker Cupid so stay tuned.

Sources:

Lead Image from https://paganhumanismcanada.wordpress.com/2014/01/18/lascivious-lupercalia-why-valentines-is-a-vital-pagan-holy-day-for-the-modern-world/

https://www.history.com/topics/ancient-rome/lupercalia

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Lupercalia

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