Lupercalia. A tradition far from the sappy celebration of Valentine’s Day as we know it today.
What we know about this holiday and its beginnings dates back to the Romans. From February 13 to February 15 they would have the feast of Lupercalia. This feast was conducted to avert evil spirits and purify the city to release health and fertility.
This celebration was seen in an episode of the hit show Chilling Adventures of Sabrina in season 2 episode 3 entitled Lupercalia.
The show explains the ritual as “where a witch is paired with a random warlock, the courting, where the pair spend the night together in unholy abstinence, and the hunt, a run through the woods which climaxes in a frenzy of orgiastic carnality.” A pure sugarcoating of the actual festivities.
However, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina did get two parts right. The partners were matched up randomly. Yet c’mon, we all knew Sabrina and Nick would be paired together. Also, each partner places blood on the other’s forehead and wipes it off in a milk soaked cloth, both laughing while it’s being preformed.
That’s pretty much where the similarities end.
In the old days, Romans would kill a goat and a dog and use their hides to make thongs. With these strips made from the hides they would beat women who lined up for the floggings. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina seem to have glossed over that part.
These lashes didn’t appear to come from a place of sadism, but rather symbolism to help these women ensure fertility. These Roman women would think these beatings would not only make them more fertile, but also give birth to more children.
Other accounts claim the men and women would run naked through the streets during this part of the festivities. If they were caught they would be lashed with the thongs. Not only would these women benefit from the ritual, but the men who preformed the lashings would too.
These young men who lashed the women were seen as making the transition from boyhood to adulthood.
However, as time went on the celebrations changed. Men held women down and whipped their inner thighs against their will. The men laughed and cheered, drunkenly.
Historians have come to the conclusion the relation between Valentine’s Day and romance began in the late 14th century. However, how much of a connection between the two remains unclear.
While the connection between Lupercalia and Valentine’s Day is a bit muddled, it appears to be a distant ancestor of the holiday. Other historians claim it has no connection at all. Regardless, it is very different from the holiday as we know it today.