Valentine’s Day: A watered-down pagan Lupercalia

Romans didn't do festivals half-way.

Image source: Public Domain / Wikimedia
  • Modern Valentine's Day is a far more restrained version of the pagan holiday it replaced.
  • During Lupercalia, Romans got naked, drunk, and there was whipping involved.
  • Romantic cards? How about simulated penetration?
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Culture & Religion

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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Sex & Relationships