Where did Valentine's Day start? Lupercalia: Rome's most bizarre spring rite

Where does Valentine's Day come from? Let us introduce you to the festival of Lupercalia, a festival when naked young men and women ran around whipping one another with animal hides.

A young man dressed in sheepskin leather whipping a girl for fun, Lupercalia pastoral festival, drawing, Roman civilization, 2nd-1st century BC. (Getty Images)

Valentine’s Day is a weird holiday when you think about it. On a usually cold day—February 14—we eat chocolate, give greeting cards, celebrate romance, and find the need to make a big deal out of it in schools. While the modern holiday is, often correctly, viewed as a “Hallmark Holiday” the origins of the festival go back more than two thousand years to a Pagan ritual with strange customs and festivities that would make a modern romantic blush.

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Conversation tips for surviving the holidays and savoring time with family

This holiday season, ask the questions you don't know the answer to.

Sometimes, you just can't relate to your relatives. Whether it's sports, politics, or past events, gathering around a dinner table during the holiday season can be a daunting prospect. Communication expert Angie McArthur explains some of her cardinal rules for connecting with your family and friends, and she identifies one of the biggest errors people make: asking the wrong questions. The root of the word 'question' is 'quest', as in endeavoring to know something—but how often is that really our motivation? As society reaches a new peak of polarization, in tense moments we may find ourselves asking questions just to prove our own points correct, which Angie McArthur explains are called leading questions. There is a more powerful method you can use: open questions, which are fueled by genuine curiosity, connection, and lead to a meaningful exchange. Chief among her tips, McArthur advises that this holiday season, you ask the questions you *don't* already know the answer to. Keeping these tips in mind, you might not merely survive the holidays—you might actually enjoy them. Angie McArthur is the co-author of Reconcilable Differences: Connecting in a Disconnected World.

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The Psychology of Gift Giving – and How to Be Better at It

Two things really ruin the holiday season: bon bon jokes and egocentrism. This study helps take the latter out of the gift-giving equation. 

A Polar Bear named Pike prepares to open a gift box while playing in freshly blown snow at the San Francisco Zoo. Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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