A Look Back at the History of Valentine’s Day

It is common knowledge that Valentine’s Day is a tradition that has been celebrated since ancient times. Today we celebrate Valentine’s Day on February 14th as a commemoration to the death or burial anniversary of St Valentine which happened about 270 A.D.

However, some people believe that the Christian church to have St. Valentine’s feast celebrated mid-February as its effort to “Christianize” Lupercalia, which is a Pagan fertility festival. Lupercalia is a celebration held every 15th of February. It is a Pagan celebration for fertility dedicated to Faunus, which was the Roman god of agriculture. Lupercalia was also a festivity dedicated to the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus.

Lupercalia

An order of Roman priests called the Luperci starts the festivity by gathering at a cave that is held sacred by the Romans. The cave is believed to be where the founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus were cared for by a lupa or she-wolf when they were little. The Luperci priests will then sacrifice a goat and a dog. The goat symbolizes fertility while the dog is sacrificed for purification. The hide of the goat will be made into strips and then dipped into the sacrificial blood. The priests will then go out into the strips and slap gently women and crop fields with the strips of the goat’s hide. The Roman women were not fearful from being touched by the goat’s hide. Instead they actually welcome and long to be touched by it since they believe that the touch of the goat’s hide will make them more fertile in the year ahead. After this, the young women of Rome will then have their names placed in a big urn and the bachelors of the city will then choose a name from the urn. The bachelor will then be paired with the young woman he has chosen for the rest of the year. This pairing usually leads to marriage.

St. Valentine’s Day

It was during the end of the 5th century when Lupercalia ceased to exist. It was outlawed because it was declared “un-Christian”. Pope Gelasius then proclaimed February 14th as St. Valentine’s Day to commemorate the death anniversary of the martyr priest St. Valentine.

Valentine’s Day as a Day of Love and Romance

When February 14th was declared St. Valentine’s Day by the Catholic Church, it was not associated immediately with love and romance. This happened much later on during the Middle Ages. In France and England, it was believed that February 14th was the start of the mating season of birds. This further added to the idea that mid-February should be a day dedicated for romance.

Hope you enjoy this little tour back in time and we hope that your Valentine’s Day will be filled with love and romance.

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