Lupercalia: the bloodier precurser to Valentine's Day
Lupercalia: the bloodier precurser to Valentine's Day

During the month of February, people around the world exchange terms of endearment in a celebration known as Saint Valentine’s Day. It seems that a virtual love-frenzy takes place during this time, but why? How did this holiday come to exist? When was it instituted and by whom? Why does it occur on February 14th? Was there truly a saint by the name of Valentine? Where did the tradition of sending out cards designating personal valentine’s come from?

Valentine’s Day is a booming multimillion-dollar industry. The Greeting Card Association says approximately 190 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, excluding the hundreds of millions that schoolchildren exchange. Also, it is the number one holiday for florists, with more than 198 million roses produced yearly for it.

But Valentine’s Day isn’t all teddy bears, cliche sentiment, and candy hearts, it has its origins in bloodshed, martyrdom, religious persecution, drunken debauchery, and strange lustful mating rituals.

Like Christmas, Easter, Halloween, New Year’s and other holidays of this world, St. Valentine’s Day is another attempt to “whitewash” perverted customs and observances of pagan gods and idols by “Christianising” them.

As innocent and harmless as St. Valentine’s Day may appear, its traditions and customs originate from two of the most sexually perverted pagan festivals of ancient history: Lupercalia and the feast day of Juno Februata.

From Feb. 13 to 15 the ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia, to ward off evil spirits and enhance the health of the community. The name came from Greek lukos, and Latin lupus, meaning wolf. In Roman mythology, Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival took place on February 15, and celebrated the founding of his temple. It was also partly known as “Wolf Festival” because it honoured Lupa, a legendary she-wolf who suckled infant orphans.

To the Romans, February was also sacred to Juno Februata, the goddess of febris (“fever”) of love, and of women and marriage. On February 14, billets (small pieces of paper, each of which had the name of a teen-aged girl written on it) were put into a container. Teen-aged boys would then choose one billet at random. The boy and the girl whose name was drawn would become a “couple,” joining in erotic games at feasts and parties celebrated throughout Rome. After the festival, they would remain sexual partners for the rest of the year. This custom was observed in the Roman Empire for centuries.

The (drunken) festival began with the sacrifice of two male goats and a dog. A feast followed, and they made thongs out of the skins of the sacrificial animals, called Februa, which gives February it’s infuriatingly spelt name!

Whitewashing Perversion

In A.D. 494, Pope Gelasius renamed the festival of Juno Februata as the “Feast of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.” The date of its observance was later changed from February 14 to February 2, then changed back to the 14. It is also known as Candlemas, the Presentation of the Lord, the Purification of the Blessed Virgin and the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

After Constantine had made the Roman church’s brand of Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire (A.D. 325), church leaders wanted to do away with the pagan festivals of the people. Lupercalia was high on their list. But the Roman citizens thought otherwise.

It was not until A.D. 496 that the church at Rome was able to do anything about Lupercalia. Powerless to get rid of it, Pope Gelasius instead changed it from February 15 to the 14th and called it St. Valentine’s Day. It was named after one of that church’s saints, who, in A.D. 270, was executed by the emperor for his beliefs.

The Roman populace still continued to celebrate Lupercalia even after pagan rituals were outlawed in 5th century A.D. Rome. That century Pope Gelasius I established Valentine’s Day at the same time of Lupercalia to honour two martyred Christian priests named Valentine (they actually may have been the same guy, more on that later.) Around that time the Normans (Norse) also had a day, called Galatin’s Day (that’s right, Leslie Knope didn’t make this one up,) which celebrated the love of women. To further confuse things, the “G” in Norse is pronounced “V” in English. It seems like Lupercalia, St. Valentine’s Day, and Galatin’s Day all kind of got meshed together.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in early martyrologies under the date of 14 February. One is described as a priest at Rome, another as bishop of Interamna (modern Terni), and these two seem both to have suffered in the second half of the third century and to have been buried on the Flaminian Way, but at different distances from the city…Of the third Saint Valentine, who suffered in Africa with a number of companions, nothing is further known.” Several biographies of different men named Valentine were merged into one “official” St. Valentine.

The church whitewashed Lupercalia even further. Instead of putting the names of girls into a box, the names of “saints” were drawn by both boys and girls. It was then each person’s duty to emulate the life of the saint whose name he or she had drawn.

This was Rome’s vain attempt to “whitewash” a pagan observance by “Christianising” it. Though the church at Rome had banned the sexual lottery, young men still practiced a much toned-down version, sending women whom they desired handwritten romantic messages containing St. Valentine’s name.

Over the centuries, St. Valentine’s Day cards became popular, especially by the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These cards were painted with pictures of Cupid and hearts, and meticulously decorated with lace, silk or flowers.

First Man Called Valentine

But who was the original Valentine? What does the name Valentine mean?

Valentine comes from the Latin Valentinus, which derives from valens—“to be strong, powerful, mighty.”

The two St. Valentines:

1. Valentine of Rome – During the third-century Roman emperor Claudius Gothicus – known as Claudius the Cruel, had abolished marriage because he felt marriage and family life was preventing people from joining the military. Priest Valentine of Rome was discovered illegally marrying people. Before he was clubbed, stoned and decapitated on February 14, 269 A.D. legend says he fell in love with his jailer’s daughter, Julia, and left her a parting note signed “From your Valentine.” In some stories, Julia was blind, and he cured her sight. His skull, adorned with flowers, (pictured above) is currently displayed at the Santa Maria in Cosmedin in Rome Italy.

2. Saint Valentine of Terni – He was also executed on February 14, but on a different year, though some scholars believe Valentine of Terni is the same man as Valentine of Rome. Terni’s story is that he championed the validity of Jesus, and is said to have restored the sight of a blind girl (St. Valentine of Rome is also rumoured to have restored the sight of the girl he loved.) At that time, it was illegal in Rome to practice Christianity(Emperor Claudius again), and he was eventually arrested. Claudius initially took a liking to him, but had Valentine put to death when he tried to convert Claudius to Christianity.

Stupid Cupid

A common symbol of Valentine’s Day is Cupid (‘desire’), the Roman god of love. The son of Venus and Mars, he was originally depicted as a young man who would sharpen his arrows on a grindstone whetted with blood from an infant, though now he is commonly presented as a pudgy baby. This transformation occurred during the Victorian era when business owners wanted to promote Valentine’s Day as more suitable for women and children

Cupid comes from the Latin verb cupere, meaning “to desire.” Cupid was the son of Venus, Roman goddess of beauty and love. Also known as Eros in ancient Greece, he was the son of Aphrodite. According to myth, he was responsible for impregnating numerous goddesses and mortals. Cupid was a child-like archer (remember, Nimrod was a skilled archer). Mythology describes Cupid as having both a cruel and happy personality. He would use his invisible arrows, tipped with gold, to strike unsuspecting men and women, causing them to fall madly in love. He did not do this for their benefit, but to drive them crazy with intense passion, to make their lives miserable, and to laugh at the results.

Today, Cupid’s arrow has become an accepted symbol of love. His name and image are frequently associated with Valentine’s Day cards, romantic gifts, and dating services, as well as is the heart symbol, which is said to be the seat of emotion.

But is this really the case?

Of cupid’s arrow piercing the heart symbol, Jack Santino wrote in the book All Around the Year: Holidays and Celebrations in American Life, “It can also be seen as a symbolic representation of the male and female principles, the round and open heart shape indicating the female, the arrow through it a phallic male symbol. The heart and arrow would then represent the union of these two forces in sexual coition.”

Innocence Lost

Today, the holiday continues as a time to promote manufactured love—filled with trite greeting cards and ubiquitous heart-shaped candies. Many people feel obligated by societal expectations to buy gifts and send Valentine cards to loved ones. Others mark the day by indulging in casual sex.

Condom sales skyrocket before the “day for lovers,” which is also known as National Condom Day. One condom producer reported that retail sales increase by 25 to 30 percent around this time.

The effects linger during the following months. In the second, third and fourth weeks of March, spending on at-home pregnancy and infertility tests is higher than usual.

The sexual side of Valentine’s Day shows its face even in the seemingly harmless parts of the day.

The harm of the day runs deeper than ancient pagan sex-rites. Minds sucked into this “mandated” celebration often grow up with a wrong understanding of love.

When little boys and girls draw each other’s names in a lottery and send Valentine cards and gifts to each other, declaring their “love,” they are learning the first stages of intimate relations designed specifically for emotionally mature adults. Instead of embracing the carefree innocence of youth, growing up without the headaches and heartaches of adulthood (finding a job, paying bills, marriage, raising a family, etc.), children today are taught to lust after each other. They are caught up in a daily drama of “If-you-loved-me-you’d-sleep-with-me; I’m-pregnant; It’s-not-mine, she-had-an-abortion.” By the time they reach adulthood, virtually every shred of innocence, sincerity and moral decency has been stripped from them. Emotionally drained, they have world-weary, “been there, done that” attitudes. And their lives are just beginning.

This is why we live in a world where a teen-aged virgin is a rare find. Where what used to be called “shacking up” and “living in sin” is now simply “living together.” Where sex is nothing more than meaningless physical recreation—no emotional attachments, no cares, no concerns. Where people change sex partners as conveniently as they change clothes. Where unmarried twenty- or thirty-somethings have had at least five sexual partners—and that is considered a low number, especially in the United States. Where men are not referred to as “my husband,” or “my fiancé,” but as “my second baby’s father.”

In the book Sex – Its Unknown Dimension, David C. Pack explained this widespread misconception.

“Most in the modern age have been sold a false concept of love. This concept is perpetuated in literature, film and music, with endless intoning of lyrics about ‘love’—‘I love you, You are my one and only love, Let’s make “love,” I want to love you tonight,’ etc. Love has been mistakenly equated with romantic feelings, physical attraction or sexual desire—and illicit sexual relations. It is invariably confused with simple lust!

“All forms of lust are selfishly motivated. It is a desire to ‘have’ another person sexually, in order to gratify one’s own senses.

“This is the opposite of true love!

“True, mature love can be defined as genuine concern that is directed outwardly toward another. Love is unselfish. It is not focused on getting or taking, but rather is interested in the welfare of others, and is centred on the desire to give.”

Valentine’s Day has always focused on getting: from getting a sex partner for the year in ancient times to getting affection, getting love—getting sex—today!

No matter how hard a person tries, or how sincere one is, the lust-filled pagan origins of Valentine’s Day cannot be ignored.

True love cannot be expressed once a year as part of a superficial holiday. Nor can it be found in a one-day affair of free sex that so often results in unwanted pregnancies, abortions, STDs, pain, depression or suicide.

Research suggests that 75 percent of suicide attempts are attributable to relationship problems or for just being single. People are made to feel bad because they have to prove their love despite their means or because they don’t have a love in their life, all because of a FAKE holiday. People feel so much pressure that they give up their virginity, propose or get married on Valentine’s Day, etc. Singles of both genders are depressed, dating persons are stressed and married men are teetering on the brink of suicide. Meanwhile, Hallmark Corporation and Fannie May all cash into people’s misery.

If someone truly cared about you, you should hear it more often than once a year, presented with a corporate conspiracy heart-shaped cardboard box from a store filled with cheap chocolates made with oils and lard, and a card only costing $2.95. Certainly, your virginity and future are worth more than that, Singles and Teenagers.

If you love someone, you do not ignore them all 364 days of the year and expect everything is all well in just one day. Instead, true love is focused on continually giving another person what he or she needs with no ulterior motives all year—in the way it should be: Unconditional and pure.


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