14 February 2011
Valentine's: the good ol' days
I hope your Valentine's Day was nice, but I can guarantee it wasn't as exciting as its pagan origins. As with many of our excellent holidays, our Christian forebears co-opted a more raucous "heathen" affair, tagged it with the name of a saint, and repackaged it in Hallmark-ed splendor.
But back in Roman days, Valentine's was better known as Lupercalia, a fertility festival honoring Rome's own "Wolfmother", Lupa, who reared the twins Remus and Romulus Mowgli-style. For the festival, two priests would sacrifice a pair of goats and a dog, cover themselves in blood, and-- along with the rest of the male population-- run through the streets brandishing the animal skins and using them to lightly flog the womenfolk.
Because nothing says "I love you" like being whipped with a bloody goat pelt.