Most of us associate Valentine’s Day with love and romance.
Then again, most of us do not know of the dark beginnings of Valentine’s Day.
And they were very dark indeed!
Valentine’s Day has its origins in the Roman holiday of Lupercalia which is a rather perturbing fertility festival. In ancient Roman times from February 13-15th Roman men, got naked, got drunk, killed a goat and a dog as sacrifices, and then took the hides from the animals and used them to beat women with. And to top it all off, young women got in line to be hit by the said wet, and bloody animal hides because Roman society believed that being struck by the just skinned hides would ensure the young women’s fertility. Then as if that wasn’t enough of a spectacle, at least from our modern eye’s point of view, there was a lottery, that’s right, a lottery where the young women’s names were pulled from a jar and then that young woman would spend at least the night in question with the man that pulled her name. Sometimes, if the couple really hit it off they would stay together.
Now during the time frame that the Lupercalia festival was going on they did not call the holiday Valentine’s Day. We have Emperor Claudius II to thank for that because on February 14th in two different years he had two different men, both named Valentine executed. Yup, you got it, our holiday of love is named after a couple of guys who had the misfortune to be named Valentine who ticked off an emperor and got themselves executed. In later times, the Catholic Church honored both men as martyrs and dedicated the holiday St. Valentine’s Day to them.
Things changed up though in the 5th Century when Pope Glasius I decided he wanted to get rid of the pagan rituals associated with Lupercalia. He decided that the best way to do this was to combine Lupercalia with St. Valentine’s Day. Combining pagan holidays and rituals with Christian holidays and rituals was one way that the Catholic church gained converts in the middle ages. Even so, at this time the holiday did not change much, the men may have put their clothes back on, but the holiday celebration was still pretty much a drunken party. The holiday was still considered to be a holiday fertility, there was just no nakedness allowed now.
Also in the 5th century, the Normans had a holiday they called Galatin’s Day. The word Galatin means “lover of women” and there are those historians who believe that it is likely that the two holidays were mixed up, thus altering St. Valentine’s Day a bit more and setting it up to be the holiday of romantic love we know today.
As time went on into the middle ages, the holiday became even more glamourized. Both Shakespeare and Chaucer glamourized the holiday in their writings, making it even more about romantic love and less about a drunken revel. The Valentine’s Day card also has its start in the middle ages where it became popular to give homemade cards on the holiday.
Eventually Valentine’s Day made it to America from Europe and it was in 1913 that Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, MO began to sell and produce machine made Valentine’s Day cards. This in turn set the stage for our modern version of the Valentine’s Day celebration.
So, what started out as Roman fertility rite changed and grew over time to become the popular holiday of romantic love that we know today.
Have yourself a satisfyingg BDSM Valentine!