13 cool facts you didn’t know about Valentine’s d Lupercalia.
(Just in time for Fifty Shades of Grey! It includes whipping! -and wolves! What’s not to like?)
Valentine’s Day is upon us, and many of you know how I like to investigate and share fun information about holidays. So, keeping that in mind, I decided to share with you all some fun information I found on a holiday that predates Valentine’s Day by a bit! Please continue with caution as there are stories and images that fragile or vanilla minds may not want to experience. For all you others, come hither and learn a bit about the interesting holiday known as:
1. Lupercalia was celebrated beginning in 44 BC, though some say it may have started at the time of the founding of Rome (traditionally 753 B.C.). It began on the ides of February (in February, the ides are the 13th) and ended on the 15th.
Yeah, we slacked and made it a one-day thing.
2. Lupercalia was a Roman holiday to honor Lupercal/Lupercus, the god of fertility.
In Roman mythology, Lupercus is a god sometimes identified with the Roman god Faunus, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greekgod Pan. Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on February 15, was called the Lupercalia.
3. The festival was named after Lupa, the she-wolf. She’s known for suckling the founders of Rome: Romulus and Remus.
And folks, I say that’s what’s wrong with kids today: not enough wolf teet
- Stephen Colbert
(yes, The Colbert Report produced a bit on Lupercalia. I’ve linked it at the bottom! Stay tuned!)
4. The priests (Lupercies) would slaughter a goat for fertility and a dog for purification (some say it was two dogs, or two goats… one dog, two goats… who’s counting?)
5. Thongs were cut from the goat skins, dipped in blood and then in milk, and the Lupercies would run around the city whipping people. Women in town would line up to be whipped, as this was considered a way to heighten their fertility and ease the pains of childbirth.
6. The Luperci were often two young men or two boys. After blood, laughing was involved. Yes, I’m serious.
Two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh.
7. The thongs were called FEBRUA (februa….. februa…. Sounds awfully familiar, doesn’t it? … Sound it out.)
8. Some articles claim that the Luperci wore the skins of the sacrificed wolves/dogs whilst doing the whipping (perhaps leading to the early stories of werewolves?)
9. MAN THIS SOUNDS LIKE SUCH A BLAST!!! WHY IN THE NAME OF LUPERCUS DON’T WE DO THIS ANYMORE?
Well, little Jimmy, you know how halloween was once a pagan holiday and Christmas was about Krampus, or the winter solstice, or a bajillion other things prior to the Christian influences?? The Christians slyly took over this holiday as well. Pope Gelasius I changed Lupercalia to celebrate St. Valentine in 496 AD to try to expel the pagan rituals. It eventually worked (seeing as though most of us aren’t whipped with leather thongs on valentine’s day…. most of us)
10. Why is Valentine associated with love in the first place?
At the time that the Roman Emperor, Claudis II had banned marriages for the army, St Valentine arranged marriages for the Roman Army men. This cost St. Valentine his life.
11. As far as the new celebrations of Valentine’s day, it kept the same overall essence as it’s big sister, Lupercalia:
It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.
12. I’m sharing this bit just because I love ze bard:
Lupercalia is celebrated during William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar. Caesar instructs Mark Antony to strike Calpurnia in hopes the action will increase her fertility:
CAESAR (to Calpurnia)
Stand you directly in Antonius’ way,
When he doth run his course. Antonius!
Caesar, my lord?
Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.
13. I’m sharing this bit just because I love ze Colbert:
And in conclusion, to everyone, everywhere: I hope you have a fantastic Lupercalia!
If you’d like to check facts, the links below are just a few of those that show my research:
(remember that the “facts” are just what we have gathered- it’s not a 100% certainty)
- So, which are you celebrating? Lupercalia or Valentine’s Day?