Valentine’s Day for the UU

02-14-18 All day



The first Valentine’s Day is a very old tradition, thought to have originated from a Roman festival. The Romans had a festival called Lupercalia in the middle of February – officially the start of their springtime. The festival was originally known as Februa (Latin for the “Purifications” or “Purgings”) after the februum which was used on the day.

The name Lupercalia was believed in antiquity to evince some connection with the Ancient Greek festival of the Arcadian Lykaia, a wolf festival (GreekλύκοςlýkosLatinlupus), and the worship of Lycaean Pan, assumed to be a Greek equivalent to Faunus, as instituted by EvanderJustin describes a cult image of “the Lycaean god, whom the Greeks call Pan and the Romans Lupercus,” as nude, save for a goatskin girdle. It stood in the Lupercal, the cave where tradition held that Romulus and Remus were suckled by the she-wolf (Lupa). The cave lay at the foot of the Palatine Hill, on which Romulus was thought to have founded Rome.

The Legend of St. Valentine. The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.

To begin with there is more than one St Valentine. Valentinus was a priest in Rome and a physician in the 3rd century AD. To be a Christian at this time was a crime punishable by death. Despite this, Valentinus would not renounce his faith and he was beheaded by order of Emperor Claudius II on February 14 270 AD.