The excerpt below is quoted verbatim from:
Illustrated History of the Rod,
by the Reverend William M.Cooper, BA
Wordsworth Editions, London. 1988 pp 39-41
(Originally published at the turn of the 19th/20th Century.)
the employment of the whip in the cause of good morals, the Romans
introduced whipping into their religious ceremonies, and especially
into the festival of the Lupercalia, performed in honor
of the god Pan. The word comes from Lupercal, the
name of a place under the Palatine Mount, where the sacrifices
Lupercalia were celebrated on the 15th of the Kalends of March
- that is, on the 15th of February, or, as Ovid observes,
on the 3rd day after the Ides. They are supposed to have been
established by Evander. Virgil speaks of the dancing Salii and
naked Luperci, and the commentators explain that these
last were men who, upon particular solemnities, used to strip
themselves stark naked, and who ran about the streets, carrying
straps of goat's leather in their hands, with which they struck
such women as they met in their way.
did those women run away; on the contrary, they willingly
presented the palms jof their hands to them in order to receive
the strokes, imagining that these blows, whether applied to
their hands or to other parts of their body, had the power of
rendering them fruitful or procuring them an easy delivery.
Luperci were in very early times formed into two bands, named
after the most distinguished families in Rome, Quintiliani and
Fabiani; and to these was afterwards added a third band, named
Juliani, from Julius Caesar. Marc Antony did not scruple to run
as one of the Luperci, having once harangued the people in that
condition. (Ed. note: see Act I, Scene I of Shakespeare's "Julius
feast was established in the time of Augustus, but afterwards
restored and continued to the time of Anastasius. The festival
was celebrated so late as the year 496 AD, long after the establishment
of Christianity. Members of noble families ran for a long time
among the Luperci, and a great improvement (!) was moreover made
in the ceremony.
ladies, no longer contented with being slapt (sic) on the
palms of their hands as formerly, began to strip themselves
also, in order to give a fuller scope to the Lupercus, and
allow him to display the vigour and agility of his arm. It is
wickedly said that the ladies became in time completely fascinated
with this kind of "diversion," and that the ceremony
being brought to a degree of perfection was so well relished by
all parties, that it existed long after many of the other rites
of paganism were abolished; and when Pope Gelasius at length put
an end to it, he met with so much opposition that he was obliged
to write an apology."
from The History Channel excerpted:
While some believe that Valentine's Day is celebrated in the middle
of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine's death
or burial which probably occurred around 270 A.D
others claim that the Christian church may have decided to celebrate
Valentine's feast day in the middle of February in an effort to
'christianize' celebrations of the pagan Lupercalia festival.
"In ancient Rome, February was the official
beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification.
Houses were ritually cleansed by sweeping them out and then sprinkling
salt and a type of wheat called spelt throughout their interiors.
Lupercalia, which began at the ides of February, February 15,
was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of
agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus."
begin the festival, members of the Luperci ... would gather at
the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders
of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or
lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility,
and a dog, for purification. The boys then sliced the goat's hide
into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to
the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with
the goathide strips.
"Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed
being touched with the hides because it was believed the strips
would make them more fertile in the coming year.
"Later in the day, according to legend,
all the young women in the city would place their names in a big
urn. The city's bachelors would then each choose a name out of
the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman.
These matches often ended in marriage."
"Pope Gelasius declared February 14
St. Valentine's Day around 498 A.D. The Roman 'lottery' system
for romantic pairing was deemed un-Christian and outlawed."