Okay, so it is another Valentine's Day and the normal question that comes up around this time of year for me is here again; this question being: what the hell? Why do we need a special day to tell someone something we should be telling them every single day of the year? Well, other than the obvious commercial reasons of making a whole lot of money for investors in the chocolate, flower, and the mushy-romantic cards industries, it's a Roman fertility feast called Lupercalia which ran from February 13th to the 15th of each year back in Pagan days.
So put on your tin hats and historian goggles boys and girls for we are going to have an Esoteric look at the Origins of St. Valentine's Day.
First, like all of the other popular celebrations, St Valentine's Day comes to us from our Pagan past, and like most Pagan celebrations was bastardized by the Christian church to make you believe that Christians are the reason for everything. The Christian Church story goes something like this: a man named Valentine was executed by the Roman Emperor Claudius II after being imprisoned for assisting persecuted Christians and secretly marrying Christian couples in love. Well, there are no historical records collaborating this one anymore than the other Christian myths. Further more, even the modern Christian church warns that St. Valentine's Day has its roots in our Pagan and should not be celebrated.
Yet, we do.
According to History.com, today's Valentine's Day tradition is with us today because in the late 5th century A.D., Pope Gelasius I eliminated the pagan celebration of Lupercalia and declared February 14 a day to celebrate the martyrdom of Saint Valentine. Yes, just as they had done with the Winter's Solstice celebration by claiming it as the day Baby Jesus was born, Pope Gelasius I decided to do the same with the Feast of Lupercalia and use it as a church building event. Which, as we will see shortly, was a good thing if you are a goat.
The Pagan roots of Valentine's Day are from the Feast of Lupercalia celebration where Roman men sacrificed goats and used the goat's skin to whip women in the belief that this would make them fertile. And why would they do this? Well, according to Roman legend, the ancient King Amulius ordered Romulus
and Remus—his twin nephews and founders of Rome—to be thrown into the
Tiber River to drown in retribution for their mother having broken her vow of
celibacy. That's right, the King came home one night drunk and bedded her and then punished her for given up her celibacy. Some things never change.
Continuing with the pagan version of St. Valentine's Day, a servant took pity on the brothers and placed them inside a basket on the river where the river-god carried the basket to a wild fig tree where it became caught in the branches. The brothers were then rescued and cared for by a she-wolf -- the animal, not the singer Shakira.
The twins were later adopted by a shepherd and his wife and learned their father’s trade. After killing the uncle who’d ordered their death, they found the cave den of the she-wolf who’d nurtured them and named it Lupercal.
It’s thought Lupercalia took place to honor the she-wolf and please the Roman fertility god Lupercus.
Lupercalia rituals took place in a few places: Lupercal cave, on Palatine Hill and within the Roman open-air, public meeting places. The festival began at Lupercal cave with the sacrifice of one or more male goats—a representation of sexuality—and a dog.
The sacrifices were performed by Luperci, a group of Roman priests. Afterwards, the foreheads of two naked Luperci were smeared with the animals’ blood using the bloody, sacrificial knife. The blood was then removed with a piece of milk-soaked wool as the Luperci laughed.
In Ancient Rome, feasting began after the ritual sacrifice where they ran ran naked whipping any woman within striking distance with the thongs of goat meat.
During Lupercalia, the men randomly chose 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.
Over time, nakedness during Lupercalia lost popularity. The festival became more chaste, if still undignified, and women were whipped on their hands by fully-clothed men.
So, there you have the origins of St. Valentine's Day. And needles to say I won't be giving out flowers, or sacrificing a goat, but I will be eating chocolate to please the Pagan gods.