Commercially presented as a day to celebrate love and romance, Valentine’s Day conjures up images of roses, chocolate and scanty lace dainties. It provides an intimate backdrop for candle lit celebrations and next to naked gyrations. But where did it all start?
In an online article written for National Geographic, John Roach traces it back to the pagan rituals of Roman festivals where “where men stripped naked, grabbed goat- or dog-skin whips, and spanked young maidens in hopes of increasing their fertility” (Professor Noel Lenski of the University of Colorado). The annual event is called Lupercalia and was held every 15th of February into the 5th century A.D. (Roach, 2009).
If you would like to read the rest of the article you can check out the link here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090211-valentines-day-gifts-history.html
You could call me a bit of a skeptic (or just a research nerd) when it comes to what I find on the web and simply accept it as truth is risky at best. So I did a bit more checking around to see if the information was similar in more scholastic journals and found that there is a general consensus among historians that Valentine’s Day is indeed a pagan festival, but the actual traditions vary according to interpretation.
In the recent edition of Library Media Connection’s periodical, D. Jackson Maxwell brought to light a bit of the history of Valentine’s Day from another perspective in his story:
In Roman times, the festival of Lupercalia was held on February 15th. The fertility celebration honored Faunus, the god of agriculture, and originally was held in hopes of ensuring good crops. Over time, the tradition evolved to where partners for the celebrations were chosen by drawing names. Later, two saints named Valentine (Valentine of Rome and Valentine of Terni) were connected to the date by being Christian martyrs, killed by Roman emperors on February 14th, the eve of Lupercalia. Stories of romance are linked to both Valentines, including a claim that one married lovers despite an imperial ban. Eventually, the Catholic Church honored these men by proclaiming them saints (Maxwell, 2009).
Saint or sinner… serious or sensual, most people will be thinking about Valentine’s Day and what they are, or are not doing that day and with whom. I wonder how cupid got pulled into this mess… hmmm looks like I have some more reading to do, but not tonight it’s time for nursing of the glass teat, then between the sheets. Enjoy your day however you may!
GrinZ and saunters off thinking about veggie sushi.
D Jackson Maxwell (2009, January). Valentine's Day: A Brief History and Game. Library Media Connection, 27(4), 34. Retrieved February 12, 2009, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1630085761).
Roach, John D. (2009, February). Valentine's Day Facts: Gifts, History, and Love Science. National Geographic News. Retrieved February 12, 2009 from: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/02/090211-valentines-day-gifts-history.html