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Valentine's Day or Lupercalia

Updated on February 14, 2014

Did It Start With Love?

The ancient Romans celebrated the festival LUPERCALIA from February 13th to 15th, in a very special way. It being the Romans, after all, there was alot of drinking going on. The men would sacrifice goats and dogs on this happy occasion. While everyone was drunk, they got naked, then the women lined up, and the men whipped the women with the hides off the dead goats and dogs. Yes romance was in the air! Nothing says "I love you" as much as a good beating with the bloody skins off a couple of fresh kills! Besides, according to the Romans, that wise and civilized bunch, this process made the women fertile.

After the happy revelry of all that whipping was over, the party loving, orgy indulging, Romans put the names of young women into jars, so that young men could take turns drawing a name out. The randomly paired up couples spent the rest of the festival having sex as much as they wanted to. See...? All that fertility whipping wasn't for nothing after all! And if the couples decided they liked each other, they could stay together after the festival. But it might have been a drag for couples who didn't like each other, to spend a couple of days together having sex. Who knows?

Plus all the activities combined... cleansed the city. Go figure.

Things rocked on until the 3rd century. At that time the Roman Emperor Claudis I had a couple of men named Valentine executed, during separate years, but both on February 14th. Right splat in the middle of Lupercalia. But the good ol' Roman Catholic Church didn't appreciate the gestures by Claudis I, and declared both men martyrs. Enter "Saint" Valentine's Day.

A couple of centuries later Pope Gelasius I, combined the festival of Lupercalia with Saint Valentine's Day, (the church did this kind of thing on a regular basis) to get rid of pagan rituals. Everybody pretty much still got drunk and had alot of sex. But they stopped all that nasty whipping of women with fresh animal hides, and pretty much kept their clothes on in public. Everyone was happy.

Things Always Change

The Normans were busy celebrating Galatin's Day, while the Romans had their Lupercalia thing going on. Galatin means "lover of women", and that's about all know about that. My mind works through it in ways that make me assume it also had to do with less than romantic love. But I may be wrong.

February 14th did get a little sweeter with the help of Chaucer and Shakespeare, when both of them added romance to the date in their writings. Saint Valentine's Day got more popular afterward all over England and Europe. So by the Middle Ages people were passing out hand made paper "cards" to each other for Valentine's Day.

By the time the "New World" was having it's famous Industrial Revolution, in the 1800s, factory made cards were in style. In response to the market demand, Hallmark Cards opened up in Kansas City, Missouri in 1913, and the rest, as they say, is history.

In today's world Valentine's Day is a billion dollar plus money machine in the United States alone. Everything from cards, chocolates, flowers, to diamond jewelry, with any and everything in between, is bought and given as tokens of love and romance on February 14th.

But it all started as a really weird sacrificial, pagan holiday. So I won't be a part of it. Just because it has changed over the centuries, and evolved into something most people find acceptable, doesn't mean it is good, right, or okay. To me it just means the true meaning of how it all began, and what it stands for, has been hidden, covered up, and used to manipulate us... the gullible human beings.

Besides, if I love someone, should I wait for February 14th to give them something from my heart. Would I expect someone who loves me to wait until that date to give me a gift presented with love or affection? I don''t think so. I think t's much truer and honest to give a gift of love when the feeling is genuine. Not when obscure, and twisted tradition dictates.


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    • Cathi Sutton profile image

      Cathi Sutton 4 years ago


      Mel Carriere,

      Thanks to bot of you for stopping by and commenting!

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Several of our holidays, including Christmas and Easter, I believe began as pagan festivals. While I am certainly no pagan, even though it might be fun to suggest to my wife that we get the party started with a little goat skin whipping, our calendar would probably be devoid of holidays if we eliminated all the holidays that are originally pagan in origin. I found your hub very entertaining and interesting, and I did not know a lot of these facts.

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 4 years ago

      I knew I was missing something. Begin the goat sacrifices!