|The Rosemary Raven by Nethersphere|
The origins of Valentine’s Day trace back to the ancient Roman celebration of Lupercalia. Held on February 15, Lupercalia honored the gods Lupercus and Faunus, as well as the legendary founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus. The men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals they had just slain.
The Roman romantics “were drunk (and)…naked,” says Noel Lenski, a historian at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Young women would actually line up for the men to hit them, Lenski says. They believed this would make them fertile.
The brutal fete included a matchmaking lottery, in which young men drew the names of women from a jar. The couple would then be, um, coupled up for the duration of the festival — or longer, if the match was right.
The ancient Romans may also be responsible for the name of our modern day of love. It wasn’t called “Valentine’s Day” until a priest named Valentine came along. Valentine, a romantic at heart, disobeyed Emperor Claudius II’s decree that soldiers remain bachelors. Claudius handed down this decree believing that soldiers would be distracted and unable to concentrate on fighting if they were married or engaged. Valentine defied the emperor and secretly performed marriage ceremonies. As a result of his defiance, Valentine was put to death on February 14.
After Valentine’s death, he was named a saint. As Christianity spread through Rome, the priests moved Lupercalia from February 15 to February 14 and renamed it St. Valentine’s Day to honor Saint Valentine.
Later, Pope Gelasius I muddled things in the 5th century by combining St. Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan rituals. But the festival was more of a theatrical interpretation of what it had once been. Lenski adds, “It was a little more of a drunken revel, but the Christians put clothes back on it. That didn’t stop it from being a day of fertility and love.”
As the years went on, the holiday grew sweeter. Chaucer and Shakespeare romanticized it in their work, and it gained popularity throughout Britain and the rest of Europe. Medieval scholar Henry Ansgar Kelly (author of “Chaucer and the Cult of Saint Valentine”) credits Chaucer as the one who first linked St. Valentine’s Day with romance.
In medieval France and England it was believed that birds mated on February 14. Hence, Chaucer used the image of birds as the symbol of lovers in poems dedicated to the day. In Chaucer’s “The Parliament of Fowls,” the royal engagement, the mating season of birds, and St. Valentine’s Day are related:
“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, When every fowl cometh there to choose his mate.”
By the Middle Ages, Valentine became one of the most popular saints in England and France. Despite attempts by the Christian church to sanctify the holiday, the association of Valentine’s Day with romance and courtship continues through the Middle Ages to this day.
To celebrate this day enjoy my machinima animation The Elf Knight & The Faerie Queene. Inspired by Spencer’s poem ”The Faerie Queene” c 1590+1596 which celebrates ”Queen Elizabeth I”, and the Scottish folk song ”The Elfin Knight”. Set to ”Scarborough Fair” sung by Gretchen Cornwall of World Tree Music, the song and this tale present the story of a man who tells the listener to ask his former love to perform a series of impossible tasks to win his love back. In this version the task setter is the Faerie Queene, ”Gloriana”.
At Valentines Day I do declare,
True Love illumines everywhere.
To those whose hearts are unrequite,
I offer hope for tender plight.
To those whose hearts are happy found,
I celebrate with joy profound.
At Valentines Day I do declare,
True love will ever guide you there.
c.Celestial Elf 2014.
Happy Valentines / Lupercalia Day !!