Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February? A rebel? A lover?
Is Valentine’s Day celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of St. Valentine’s death? Did the Christian church decide to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia? (don’t ask me to pronounce that!) Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival (oh yeah!) dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture.
To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and shack up for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage. Fertility rites? I can guess why they ended in marriage! Hmmm didn’t Scotland call this Handfasting?
Oh yeah! This is good stuff. But that’s not the only tale.
One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, disagreeing with the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death. (info from History.com)
Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. (Seriously, what is up with women and men behind bars!) Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. (also from History.com – lots of cool info there!)
Personally I prefer the Pagen tale! I guess that says something about me! Though I love goats and would prefer they weren’t harmed I think I’d enjoy the following year!
(I think they are making sure no one sacrifices them!)
Happy Ides of February!
From your Valentine,
Click the rafflecopter link to enter.