Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia


Valentine’s Day is:

  • a commemoration of the martyrdom of a Roman whom the Catholic Church removed from the calendar of saints in 1969
  • a commercialized festival celebrating a romantic love so profoundly stereotyped that it practically qualifies as a fetish
  • a leftover of pagan fertility rituals such as Lupercalia, during which naked celebrants whipped each other into a passion
  • a day to throw money away on bad chocolate and scentless roses
  • a heteronormative consumerist festival that does for real love what commercial Christmas celebrations do for Jesus
  • also known as S.A.D., Singles Awareness Day
  • being ruined, ruined I tell you, by cynics like Mistress Lorelei
  • a good idea, if only to break up the misery of February
  • all of the above

I seriously dislike the schmaltzy commercial aspects of Valentine’s Day, but I’m a sentimentalist at heart, and I think celebrating love is a good idea. Especially in February, which is in many places a month of dreary skies and icy roads.

However, I am also thoroughly in favor of Lupercalia: a festival of purification by whipping, stimulating fertility by whipping, and relieving the misery of mid-February by whipping. Even if you’re not feeling especially impure, a good flogging can get your juices flowing. Also, the fertility stimulated can be creative and symbolic, not necessarily reproductive.

So embrace the power of “and.” Go forth and celebrate Lupercalia. Spank one another, or use leather straps, which are more authentic. Break out the goatskin flogger and the ancient Roman recipes. Then honor the modern Western holiday by having some good chocolate and champagne.

Lupercalia painting by Domenico Beccafumi

Candy Whip Revealed

2 comments for “Valentine’s Day and Lupercalia

  1. April 6, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Valentines day, easter, even xmas, they’ve all lost touch with what they were really about.

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