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.”

 

Fontana della Barcaccia and roses
Barcaccia Fountain, Piazza di Spagna,Rome

 

Buon San Valentino!

 

Want to go to Rome and Verona now?

ROME ALONE, ROME AGAIN, VERONA ALONE & VERONA AGAIN are FREE to download at Amazon Kindle on 13/14 February!

 

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In ROME ALONE, take off for the Eternal City for a long weekend with unhappy housewife Bee and newly-divorced Alzheimer’s expert Dr Neil McCarthy, as they leave from opposite ends of the country for a mini-break full of the unexpected that will change their lives forever.

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Trevi Fountain, Rome

Catch up with the story in VERONA ALONE, when newly divorced former cellist Moira decides to fulfil a girlhood dream of visiting Verona during the summer opera season. There she is taken under the wing of a quirky and generous American who appears to have a secret, which is only discovered when she finds herself all at sea with him.

VERONA AGAIN sees three couples fight to save their relationships – who will succeed, who will fail and who will lose the love of their life?

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Juliet’s bedchamber, Casa di Giulietta, Verona, with original balcony above and bed from Franco Zeffirelli film Romeo and Juliet (1968)

All books contain adult themes, dark humour and sexual content.

All photos copyright A. Meredith

 

 

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