By Dora Brogdon
Do you know the origin of St. Valentine’s Day? Valentine’s Day hasn’t always been about giving your significant other chocolate and cards covered in hearts.
Instead, there was something very different that took place on February 15 and was celebrated by the Romans. Lupercalia, as it was called, was a pagan ritual that celebrated the twins Remus and Romulus. According to legend, The twins were placed in a basket and set into the river. Soon, the basket was caught by some branches and a she-wolf found the twins and cared for them. As they grew older, they were both adopted by a shepherd and his wife. After killing their uncle, who ordered to have them thrown into the river as babies, they returned to the cave of the she-wolf and named it Lupercal.
A festival was begun to celebrate Lupercal which included a sacrifice of goats and lashing women with thongs made of goat skin. The lashes were part of a ritual that were said to make the women fertile and ready for marriage.
During the time Rome was under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, they fought in many bloody and unpopular campaigns. Claudius’ need for a stronger army led to a ban of marriage and engagements in Rome. This was because he believed men were unwilling to leave their families behind to go fight in battle. While it may have been banned, the priest named Valentine didn’t agree with Claudius’ decision and continued to marry young lovers but did so in secret. When this was discovered, Valentine was arrested and executed on February 14. It is also said that while Valentine was in jail he befriended the jailer’s daughter, also healed her eyes so she could see, and left her a farewell note. At the bottom it is said he signed it saying ‘From your Valentine’.
The holiday of love has come a long way from being a pagan festival to now being in second place for the top card giving holidays. There are so many things to give to loved ones, many of personally just want the chocolate, but any item you select is an opportunity to see your partner smile with joy. Make sure to plan something special for your significant other this year and stay safe!