Who was Saint Valentine? And why was he beheaded?

Valentine's Day has a surprisingly raunchy history, going back thousands of years.

The supposed skull of St. Valentine as displayed in Rome. Credit: Wikipedia.

Valentine’s Day is named after St. Valentine, who has become known as the patron saint of lovers. He was a rather mercurial figure about whom little is known.

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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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