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.”
Buon San Valentino!
Want to go to Rome and Verona now?
Download ROME ALONE and ROME AGAIN and visit Rome from the comfort of your sofa! FREE to download 14/15 February!
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.
Return to Rome with them three years later in ROME AGAIN and discover the forces at work which they never suspected on their first trip.
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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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All books contain adult themes, dark humour and sexual content.
All photos copyright A. Meredith