Happy Lupercalia everyone!

14 Feb
A classic Lupercalia Festival

A classic Lupercalia Festival

Every year we celebrate a very ancient pastoral festival to keep away evil spirits and increase fertility, some refer to this as “Valentine’s Day.” The roots of this holiday aren’t in a Hallmark marketing meeting as some have stated. The origins of this red-stained holiday rest with ancient shepherds, in their pre-Roman fields.

Ancient Lupercalia image

Ancient Lupercalia image

Celebrations traditionally ran from February 13 through February 15, we’ve lazily reduced it down to February 14 in our modern-day. The festivities were kicked off with the sacrifice of two goats and a dog, then young were anointed with blood, then the blood was wiped off with a knife, then everyone laughed maniacally (I’m not making this up).

Because the polytheistic ancients needed to celebrate as many gods as possible at all times, we're throwing in Romulus and Remus.

This she-wolf does not look comfortable.

After a feast, the skin of the victims was cut into strips. Young men would run through the city beating women with the bloody strips. In the early days of Lupercalia the men ran naked through the fields. Later they wore the skins of sacrificed goats to resemble a wolf. The whole wolf tie-in is a little convoluted. Nobody knows for sure-no matter what they say-but wolves are often used and seen in Lupercalia celebrations. Many believe the whole wolf bit comes from the Lycaean god Lupercal (Pan to the Greeks) who is often represented, as is the she-wolf that kept alive Romulus and Remus. Ancient people really liked to include as many gods as possible, as often as possible, as if their gods would be offended to be left out. Planning a holiday in ancient times seems almost as petty and political as planing the seating chart at a wedding.

All of this was to ensure fertility and ease the pains of childbirth. Now, I’ve never had a baby before, but from what I can tell it’s pretty damn painful. I’m not sure why we don’t still do this.

And, totally unrelated, this came up when I was googling Lupercalia images:

UPDATED! Colbert on Lupercalia: CLICK HERE


6 Responses to “Happy Lupercalia everyone!”

  1. lordsofthedrinks February 14, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    Forget Valentines Day… It’s St Trifon Day! 😀


  2. meaghanokeefemeaghan February 19, 2013 at 8:06 am #

    w’hay! so this is where your blog is. I thought your website blog section had been abandoned. more fool me.

  3. Eva Halloween March 1, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    Oh, history. Just when I think you can’t get any greater…

  4. kristobaldude February 4, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    Reblogged this on Randomly Mental ™ and commented:
    The True Origins of Valentine’s Day


  1. Tři teorie vzniku svátku sv. Valentýna… ani jedna není z Ameriky | Blog Pánské pasáže - January 30, 2014

    […] do 5. stol. n. l. Zde se totiž, na základě ještě starších tradic, slavil svátek jménem Lupercalia. Ten probíhal vždy v rozmezí 13. – 15. února a jeho smyslem bylo odvrátit hrozbu temných […]

  2. Valentine’s Day: from orgies to excess | zadenalove - February 13, 2016

    […] Photo credit […]

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