The Battle for Valentine’s Day: Its Little Known Roots in Paganism

I ran across this article this morning (a day late, I know), but I thought I would share it. It touches upon the likely ancient roots of the holiday, and goes on to discuss how some Evangelical Christians are hoping to co-opt it for their own nefarious purposes. ~ Claire

The Battle for Valentine’s Day
by Sophia Deboick

The development of Valentine’s Day into the orgy of commercialised sentimentality we know today has been a long process, with Roman paganism and the poets of the middle ages both making a contribution to the day’s current associations with romance, love and sex. But the reclaiming of the day by fundamentalist Christians to further the agenda of the religious right has added a new chapter to this long history.

The Romans were more responsible for the association of 14 February with sexual love than the Christian saint (or saints) who gave the day its name. On 14 February Juno Fructifier, queen of the Roman gods and goddess of women and marriage, was celebrated. The following day was the Feast of Lupercalia, a festival even more overtly associated with fertility and sexual rambunctiousness. The focus of the festival in Rome itself was the grotto at the foot of the Palatine Hill where Romulus and Remus were supposed to have been suckled by a she-wolf. Here a goat would be sacrificed and youths known as Luperci were dressed in its skin, before proceeding through the city, hitting women and girls with strips of goat skin – a ritual meant to guarantee their fertility.

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