I love a good origin story and Valentine’s Day is a delightful tale of love, fertility, degradation, manipulation oh and there’s a bit of nudity too! Keep reading if that’s your thing…
Before the Catholic’s claimed today and used it as yet more mass manipulation, it was actually an ancient tradition called Lupercalia. This is where all this commercial nonsense started off… with nudity!
What’s clear, before I go on, is that this particularly festivity was definitely thought up by a man. Hit your women; so she may conceive. Thanks for that. Thank the Gods we’ve got past all this… well mostly.
So anyway, back in the day everyone got naked for a Pagan tribute to the fertility Gods. In an effort to ward off evil spirits (and conceive) Women used to voluntarily line up in the streets to be whipped by men with the hides of their freshly killed animals. (How lovely, that they got to enjoy physical affection with the skin of a dead goat?!)
They were then physically tied together (and yes it’s for the exact reason you’re thinking) for the duration of the festival. To think that we’ve grown and evolved to online dating now – it’s much more efficient and I’m sure the Gods would be so proud.
Well some of us are still partial to a bit of consensual bondage, but I’m pretty sure there are less dead goats.
Historians are pretty confident that the execution by the Romans of two Catholic men coincidentally called ‘Valentine’ a few years apart on this specific date was a convenient reason for the name. The Catholic’s do love to memorialise a Martyr and they did so by making it a day dedicated to fertility; St. Valentine
In short, the Church took the concept of Lupercalia, twisted it and made it their own.
The Church didn’t exactly embrace all of the Pagan Lupercalia festivities. They put a stop to the nudity (shame) for a start and stomped out all the Pagan Godly bits (and the whipping) so they could honour their Valentines. Not a shock really, the Catholics do have a penchant for claiming the odd Pagan festival or 12!
And so it continued.
The Pagan origin got pushed aside in favour of some dead Catholics. The tribute to love and fertility in the middle of a dark winter month definitely does sound like a nice idea and the people loved it. Especially after you no longer had to get your kit off in the street with a pile of warm goat corpses and horny blokes.
The likes of Chaucer and Shakespeare did their bit to add all the hearts and flowers in their works and February the 14th as the established Valentine’s Day gained momentum with every generation. The 19th century saw Hallmark get their grubby paws on it and turn it into the billion pound commercialised empire it is today and to be frank; it’s our fault we keep buying into it!
We love love!
Most of us embrace Valentine’s in some way, even if it is to go on our Socials and moan about how stupid it is. Galentine’s anyone?! (Really though? How did that become a thing?!)
Now whatever your thoughts on today are embrace it or don’t – it’s entirely up to you. This is where the story comes from and thankfully it’s not where we are now.
I don’t much fancy lining up nude in public to have my partner whip me with a fresh bit of road kill. (Also I really really REALLY don’t want to get pregnant!) Evolution is a wonderful thing, as are the laws on public indecency!
I’ll be giving my husband a bar of Tony’s Chocolonely (that I snuck on my last Babipur order) and apparently I’m getting something for the garden in a bid to be more eco friendly about the whole affair – which I shamelessly love.
*insert your own vomiting style noises here (Boke!)
I promise you though if whatever it is in the garden dies (which there’s a good chance of being likely) I’ll whip him with it (in private obviously, I’ll spare you that visual) in a spot of role reversal as a tribute to the Pagan Gods. I think that sounds fair, don’t you?!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Thanks for reading, love Jo 💚