The holiday we know hasn’t always been about love, hearts, cupid and now free eCards for Valentine’s Day. In days of yore, it was a sado-masochistic fertility holiday with connections to the Great God Pan.
Think of this when you take your girl or boyfriend out tonight: the true saint of Valentine’s Day is not some dead Christian martyr, but Faunus, the Roman equivalent of Pan, the god of shepherds and fertility.
And what do we know of Faunus (Pan)? They were horned goat-like creatures with exceptional libidos, walking about with erections in the woodlands, waiting to ravage men and women alike.
Valentine’s Day is traced back to Lupercalia, a festival celebrating Lupercus, protector of cattle who was often identified with Faunus.
Rome’s Lupercalia Festival (“The Festival of Wolves”), celebrated from February 13th to the 15th, heralded the spring and fertility by sacrificing two male goats and a dog at an alter. The Luperci priests would then don the goat skins (“februa”) and spill out into the streets naked, slapping crowds of females with bloody animal skins to facilite fertile wombs.
One has to hand it to our ancient ancestors: they knew how to have a good time.
Valentine’s Day has since been puritanized and rendered a holiday of toy hearts, candies, cards, dinner and then some bed-time fun. And the Pope Paul VI might have even deleted it from the calendar of saints for its connection to pagan revelry.
But let us not forget the ribald behavior of our ancestors, who dressed as goats and took to the streets naked and laughing maniacally.