Lupercalia – the Roman origins of Valentine’s Day

In the Roman Empire, February 15 was the Roman Festival of Lupercalia in honour of the god Lupercus and the birth of twin brothers Romulus and Remus, founders of Rome.

The festival also came to be associated with fertility and purification rites, when male priests bathed naked. These priests were known as Luperci. Lupercalia  also a time when amorous couples paired off for the duration of the festival.

Some believe the tradition of Valentine’s Day dates back to the festival of Lupercalia, when couples paired off for a brief fling.

Over time and as Christianity spread, Lupercalia came to be a celebration of the Purification of the Virgin Mary.

The day is named after a martyred saint – Lupercalia was changed into a festival to honour saints and instead of a tombola in which Roman men drew a ticket and “won” a girl, they ended up with a saint’s name instead.

Valentine is thought to have been a priest who displeased Emperor Claudius by performing marriage ceremonies for men whom the Emperor thought should have joined the Roman army instead. As a result, Valentine was imprisoned, but while awaiting execution legend has it that he himself fell in love with a girl – and sent her a note before he was executed.

The note read “From your Valentine.”

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, ROME ALONE and ROME AGAIN will be free to download at Amazon Kindle  until the end of February 14 – Buon San Valentino!

Download both books FREE for Valentine’s Day.

Download ROME ALONE FREE  Feb 11-14

Download ROME AGAIN FREE  Feb 11-14

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Fontana della Barcaccia and roses

Fontana della Barcaccia, Piazza di Spagna

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All photos copyright Angela Meredith

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