Today is the feast of St. Valentine aka St. Valentine’s Day. Normally I would list the many and sundry media articles that detail the pre-Christian origins of this seemingly Sainted day. But I’ll concentrate on Lupercalia tomorrow (the actual day of its observance).
In reality, St. Valentine’s Day most likely isn’t the holiday created to replace Lupercalia. When Lupercalia observances were suppressed by Pope Gelasius I in 494, the pre-existing Feast of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple (which in the Julian calendar fell on the same day as Lupercalia) was promoted in Rome as the purification of the Virgin Mary (later called Candlemas). Since the month of February and Lupercalia were seen as times of purification by the Romans, the new emphasis on Mary’s purification makes perfect sense. The Feast of St. Valentine, established two years later by Gelasius doesn’t seem to have much to do with the replacement of Lupercalia.
If you want to blame someone for equating love with St. Valentine’s Day, you’ll most likely have to blame Geoffrey Chaucer (who hath a blog). But if you are looking for something Pagan (and romantic) to celebrate today, then Sannion has the just the thing!
“According to the Athenian calendar, the Theogamia, a festival honoring the marriage of Hera and Zeus, was celebrated on the 27th of Gamelion. This year, that date just so happens to fall on Valentine’s Day. I like little coincidences like that. So, while you’re cuddling up next to your sweetheart and consuming large amounts of chocolate, take a moment to honor the happy couple on their special day.”
Hera and Zeus
So lets hear it for the (mostly) happy couple! Have a happy (and by this point thoroughly secularized) Valentine’s Day celebration with the romantic partner(s) of your choice.