The Feast of Lubercus
The roots of Valentine's
Day can be traced back to pagan festivals of third century Rome.
February 14th was set aside as a day to honor the goddess Juno, who was
the queen of the Roman gods and goddesses and was the goddess of women
This day was also the eve of the Feast of Lupercalia.
This festival was in honor of the god Lubercus.
During this time
hordes of hungry wolves roamed outside of Rome where shepherds kept
their flocks. The God Lupercus, was said to watch over the shepherds and
their flocks and keep them from the wolves. Every February the Romans
celebrated a feast called Lupercalia to honor Lupercus so that no harm
would come to the shepherds and their flocks.
Also during Lupercalia,
but in honor of the goddess Juno Februata, it
was traditional to have boys and girls pick names from an urn and become
partners to the festival, playing and dancing together. Sometimes the
pairings lasted through the year, which begain in March, and some
resulted in marriaige. This tradition was performed in anticipaion of
the rites of spring and as a celebration of youthful love.
This celebration continued long after wolves were a problem to Rome.