Happy Valentine’s Day: Saint Valentine’s Day: Happy Lupercalia!

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It is amazing to look at the origins of Valentine’s Day. Did it come from the celebration of the martyrdom of Valentinus who was burned along a northern road of Ancient Rome called the Via Flaminia on February 14th. Did it come from the practice of giving flowers and greeting cards – called valentines – in Europe which started from the Middle Ages? Or did it come from a more ancient Roman festival called Lupercalia that was celebrated from February 13 to 15? Or did it start with Geoffrey Chaucer when he wrote Parlement of Foules in 1382 for the first anniversary of the marriage of King Richard II of England and Ann of Bohemia – a political marriage covered by a treaty signed May 2, 1381, they were married eight months later after the treaty was signed. Anyway, Chaucer wrote:

For this was on seynt Volantynys day
Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.

Or in the contemporary English tongue.

For this was Saint Valentine’s Day,
When every bird cometh there to choose his mate.

Lupercalia Festival was done in order to purify the city; shoo way evil spirits; and make everyone healthy and fertile. It involved the Soldus Luperci, priests and what we know call devotees, running naked or as an irritated Cicero would put it,nudus, unctus, ebrius or naked, oiled, drunk.” As he saw Anthony as a Lupercus. The Luperci while running across Rome the Luperci would strike any man or woman they encounter with goat-skin leather thongs. People The festival later on would evolved or devolved by Augustus when the Luperci were required to wear goat skin girdles. And eventually became extinct in Rome when the Pope banned the festival, although in Byzantium the practice was said to have survived, that is until Byzantium fell to the Turks.

In William Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar begins during the Lupercalia Festival:

CAESAR (to Calpurnia): Stand you directly in Antonius’ way,
When he doth run his course. Antonius!

ANTONY: Caesar, my lord?

CAESAR: Forget not, in your speed, Antonius,
To touch Calpurnia; for our elders say,
The barren touched in this holy chase,
Shake off their sterile curse.

It was during the Lupercalia Festival that Caesar refused the crown and become the King of Rome. Of course this did not prevent him from being assassinated Brutus, Cassius and Caesar’s other friends during the Ides of March.


Nor was Valentine’s Day a joyful day for the George “Bugs” Moran. During the prohibition Bugs Moran was in conflict with Al Capone the Chicago Outfit. Moran, who was said to have invented the drive-by-shooting, even called Al Capone Scarface or the Behemoth. However, on February 14, 1929, Moran’s gang w the North side Gang and twp others were lined up against a wall of a garage and executed. The killers systematically used Thompson sub-machine guns and shot guns to spray their victims with bullets back-and-forth. Only one man survived but he died three hours later at the hospital, refusing to name his killers. Moran was not among those killed. Apparently, the assassins mistook one of the men as Moran. Bus Moran continued to be Boss of his territory till the 1930w. This was to be known as the Valentine’s Day Massacre and the outrage caused by it led eventually to fall from power of Al Capone.

So aside from the fertility angle and the date, what does Lupercalia to Valentine’s Day or with Saint Valentine? One can probably figure a relationship between Saint Valentine and Chaucer’s poem and the Romantic Art of Courtly Love.

So, Saint Valentine gave his name and his day to a celebration crafted in the Middle Ages and made popular by Chaucer to celebrate a political marriage.

Otiose? Interesting? Miscallany bits of knowledge about Saint Valentine’s Day from the department of why do you even bother? Perhaps … but then again :)

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