Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

• Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

In ancient Rome every year from 13 to 15 February a festival called Lupercalia, dedicated to the god of fertility Luperci. About the origins of this holiday scientists still argue. According to one of the most popular versions of the festival is associated with the Greek Pan festival, held in the Lyceum, and on the other - with the god Faun because fertility rite.

Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

Festival of Lupercalia in Rome. Painting Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610).

Called "Lupercalia", most likely comes from the word "lupus" (wolf). Lupercalia festival is also often associated with Valentine's Day, because they are both carried out in February, however, only that date is not sufficient to trace a clear relationship. Nevertheless, the origin of Valentine's Day is a lot of associations, as well as many historians argue that this romantic holiday has a very complicated story.

Some researchers believe (though others reject this theory) that modern customs of Valentine's Day come from the Lupercalia customs. However, it does not have any evidence. It is often said that Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia "Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary", this essentially establishing Valentine's Day.

Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

Illustration of the Lupercalia and the image of the altar.

This theory, as a Valentine's Day no mention, however, is a letter from the pope, dating back to the year 496, on the replacement of festivals in which it directly prohibits Lupercalia because conducted during their pagan ceremonies. The whole festival was held in honor of Luperci (one of the names of the Faun, which it referred to as the patron-protector of herds from wolves). Accompanied him at the foot of the Palatine hill, where, according to legend, a she-wolf suckled the founders of Rome - Romulus and Remus.

Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

Photo of the dome so-called Cave Lupercal

Lupercalia began with the fact that "Luperci", the priests of the god of the same name, sacrificed on the altar of a special two goats and a dog. Then two young Luperci approached the altar, where rubbed his forehead with sacrificial blood, after which they began to laugh and have fun. Luperci then ran around the Palatine Hill, dressed in the skins of sacrificial goats and lashed all tucked under the arm straps of people, to make them the same skins.

Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

"Luperci" at the altar smeared forehead sacrificial blood.

At the end of celebrations all stripped naked and indulged in the fun. Many girls literally lining up to get the lash Luperci, because it was thought that it had to relieve labor or provide fertility. Some historians believe that the festival may be associated with Valentine's Day because of the history associated with the Christian priest Valentine. It is said that he began to hold secret marriages, when the Roman Emperor Claudius II forbade men to marry (he believed that so they would be better to fight).

Drevnerimesky festival of Lupercalia - a forerunner of Valentine's Day

A bronze wolf's head, Rome, 1st century BC. e.

There is also a Slavic alternative Valentine's Day - patron saint of lovers saints Peter and Fevronia.