Lupercalia - the Ancient Origin of Valentine's Day

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Valentine's Day and February equal love and romance. In Ancient Rome, this time of year had similar connotations, but they were celebrated very differently. In modern times, the month of February and St. Valentine's Day has come to symbolize love and romance, and has been celebrated in this gentile way since the days of courtship and wooing of the Middle Ages. But the origin of February can be connected with love and fertility by be tracking back to the roots of ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia, a fertility celebration celebrated on February 15.

The Lupercalia festival was celebrate to honor Lupercus, a god of fertility and farming, and it was celebrated with annual sacrifices and feasts. One of the aims of the festival was to purify the land and the young women of child-bearing age. During the Lupercalia, two priests, called lupercis, sacrificed two male goats and a dog at the sacred cave where Romulus and Remus were supposedly nursed by the she-wolf. After a feast, the young men dressed in nothing but a belt with goats' skins, running through the city streets, whipping people (mostly young girls and women) with thongs cut from the sacrificial goat skins. This act was thought to purify the girls, ensure their fertility, and lessen the pain of childbirth. Names were also drawn from an urn to pair up young men and women as part of the festivities. This was intended to lead to marriages and children.

February occurred later in the ancient Roman calendar than it does today so Lupercalia was held in the spring and regarded as a festival of purification and fertility. It is implied that purification is how the month of February gets its name (February comes from the latin "Februare" meaning to purify). The Lupercalia occasion was happy and festive. Another unique custom of Feast of Lupercalia was the pairing of young boys and girls who otherwise lived a strictly separated lives. During the evening, all the young marriageable girls used to place a chit of...
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