Happy Lupercalia To All Those Celebrating Today!

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Lupercalia

This was an ancient Roman festival during which worshippers gathered at a grotto on the Palatine Hill in Rome called the Lupercal, where Rome’s legendary founders, Romulus and Remus, had been suckled by a wolf. The sacrifice of goats and dogs to the Roman deities Lupercus and Faunus was part of the ceremony. Luperci (priests of Lupercus) dressed in goatskins and, smeared with the sacrificial blood, would run about striking women with thongs of goat skin. This was thought to assure them of fertility and an easy delivery. The name for these thongs— februa —meant “means of purification” and eventually gave the month of February its name. There is some reason to believe that the Lupercalia was a forerunner of modern Valentine’s Day customs. Part of the ceremony involved putting girls’ names in a box and letting boys draw them out, thus pairing them off until the next Lupercalia.

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