Celebrating Valentine’s Day With Animal Sacrifice And Whipping Women

Saint Valentine by Bassano

St. Valentine by Bassano.

Yes, you read the headline right: Valentine’s Day was celebrated by the Ancient Romans in a variety of more or less (un)appealing ways, depending on your tastes (and gender, one suspects). Arnie Seipel reports for NPR:

Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate romance and love and kissy-face fealty. But the origins of this festival of candy and cupids are actually dark, bloody — and a bit muddled.

Though no one has pinpointed the exact origin of the holiday, one good place to start is ancient Rome, where men hit on women by, well, hitting them.

From Feb. 13 to 15, the Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.

The Roman romantics “were drunk. They were naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.

The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival – or longer, if the match was right.

The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. Emperor Claudius II executed two men — both named Valentine — on Feb. 14 of different years in the 3rd century A.D. Their martyrdom was honored by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day…

[continues at NPR]

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  • DeepCough

    Ave Lupercalia! Ave Caesar! Ave Senatus Populusque Romanus!

  • DeepCough

    Ave Lupercalia! Ave Caesar! Ave Senatus Populusque Romanus!

  • Robert Morga

    Very interesting info. Thanks!

  • Robert Morga

    Interesting info. Thanks!

  • Robert Morga

    Interesting info. Thanks!

  • Guest

    Oh, boo-hoo, let’s get alarmist because our vision of women as precious, gentle flowers has been threatened!

    “Feminists have no idea that some women like to flirt with danger because there is a sizzle in it. You know what gets me sick and tired? The battered-woman motif. It’s so misrepresented, the way we have to constantly look at it in terms of male oppression and tyranny, and female victimization. When, in fact, everyone knows throughout the history of the world that many of these working-class relationships where women get beat up have hot sex. They ask why won’t she leave him? Maybe she won’t leave him because the sex is very hot. I say we should start looking at the battered-wife motif in terms of sex. If gay men go down to bars and like to get tied up, beaten up, and have their asses whipped, how come we can’t allow that a lot of wives like the kind of sex they are getting in these battered wife relationships? We can’t consider that women have kinky tastes, can we? No, because women are naturally benevolent and nurturing, aren’t they? Everything is so damn Mary Poppins and sanitized.” (Camille Paglia)

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