The Feast of Lupercalia: The Older Twin of Valentine’s Day

February 14th, a day known for romance, of flowers and poems has many theories surrounding its origin, however, history has given very few definitive answers cataloging the holiday's conception. One popular theory involves the execution of a priest named Valentine, named after the saint who shared his namesake, by Emperor Claudius II.

Claudius II was an emperor, who was "ambitious" by nature, often sending his troops on far away missions for long periods of time. These orders, brought poor morale upon the soldiers who were missing their wives and families at home. Claudius II being insightful as he was decided that banning marriage all together would remedy the situation.

It did not.

Many individuals were heartbroken by the absurd decree and looked elsewhere for their matrimony. Father Valentine was the solution whom secretly performed marriages for the love-struck couples. As fate would deem, Valentine was discovered and imprisoned. During his incarceration, many people brought him gifts and letters showing their gratitude for his sacrifice for love. Valentine soon fell in love himself, with the daughter of one of his prison guards, whom he was teaching how to read. Upon hearing of his approaching execution, he wrote her one last letter signed "from your Valentine".

Father Valentine was executed on February 14th  the year 278A.D.

While this story is both romantic and heart-breaking it is most likely a legend used to hide the holiday's more Pagan roots.

Traditionally, on February 15th, the Pagan festival known as the "Feast of Lupercalia" occurred. Lupercalia, is a celebration of love and passion, designed to bring fertility and repel evil.

While the exact origin of Lupercalia is unknown, its origins can be traced as far as the 6th century B.C.

According to Roman legend, King Amulius ordered Romulus and Remus—his twin nephews and founders of Rome—to be thrown into the Tiber River to drown in retribution for their mother’s broken vow of celibacy.

Fortunately,  a servant took pity on them, placed them inside a basket on the river instead. Tiberinus, the Tiber river-god, carried the basket and the brothers downriver to a fig tree where it became entangled in the tree's branches.

Allegedly, the brothers were rescued and cared for by a she-wolf in a den at the base of Palatine Hill, the location where Rome was founded. Eventually, the twins were adopted by a shepherd and his wife. The twins, once grown, sought revenge upon their uncle who had ordered their death.

They succeeded.

In homage,  they found the den of the she-wolf who had nurtured them as infants and named it Lupercal.

It’s thought Lupercalia is dedicated in honor to the she-wolf, the Roman fertility god Lupercus.

A ritual sacrifice of a goat (pretty common for the time) sparked the feast of Lupercalia. After the feast was over, the Luperci cut strips of the hide from the newly-sacrificed goats. These thongs were used by naked or nearly-naked men who would "whip" any woman within striking distance of the thongs.

While open to interpretation, the lashing of the thongs where said to represent fertility, with most women baring skin in order to receive the "blessing" the thong bestowed.

During Lupercalia, the men randomly chose a readily available woman’s name from a pot or pouch to be coupled with until the next Lupercalia festival.

During the year, gifts were thought to be exchanged, most often these were gifts of flowers, words of affection, handcrafted items and jewelry.

Legend states most fell in love and were married.

Overtime, the feast lost its popularity to the more chaste Roman diplomats. Considered to be a "vile" Pagan ritual, many abandoned the Lupercalia festival and those who didn't celebrated in secrecy.

As fans of history, love and passion we at Altar Egos have dedicated the February art show to Lupercalia.

Please join Altar Egos for the opening reception for "The Feast Of Lupercalia: Love, Protection and Fertility Wards"  on February 15th, from 6-9pm!

Help the Altar Egos Duo celebrate as we showcase 15 Lupercalia Wards inspired and created by our Twin Flame Connection, to invoke Healthy Love, Protection and Fertility, minus the nakedness and animal sacrifice!

The first 25 guests to our opening reception will receive a small gift of candle magic created to attract healthy, passionate love and raise those positive vibrations!

With love, Ryan and Dani

Altar Egos ~ 208.968.1031 ~
1522 S. Vista Ave, Boise ID 83705