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Love is a lottery
February 14, 2008 3:57 AM   Subscribe

Lupercalia is a festival that probably pre-dates Rome, and which later became known as St. Valentine's day. It had everything; sacrifice, cake, nudity, spanking and a love lottery. What do we get? A card. If we are lucky. But, who was Valentine? Did Chaucer make the whole thing up?

Lupercalia was held in a month which became known as February after the strips of goat meat (februa) used to stike people to bring good luck, banish bad spirits and promote fertility and easier childbirth.
February used to be later in the year, so running about Rome wearing nothing but a goat skin would not have been such a freezing experience.
Since the development of sweet chocolate, this particular tradition has declined in popularity somewhat. j/k
Valentine was removed from the liturgical calendar in 1969 as the Catholic church decided there wasn't enough certainty about the 'real' St. Valentine (!?!).
As seen on Metafilter.
posted by asok (27 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
strike
posted by asok at 3:59 AM on February 14, 2008


Well at least I now know what "special event" to organise for Mrs 42. Anyone know where I can get some goat meat...?
posted by twine42 at 4:02 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The cake was a lie.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 4:05 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Poor Valentine forgot to bribe the right people to write gospels about him. (Or he didn't shout to enough people to get his submission Dugg.)

Lupercalia is also associated, by many people, with cock controversy due to its connection with suggestions of sexual open-mindedness (Romans Gone Wild!) and an apocryphal story about sausages being consumed as an edible (or more edible, depending on your point of view) penis substitute.

(Incidentally, I address that very issue here.)
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 4:22 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


They were found by a she-wolf who, instead of killing them, nurtured and nourished them with her milk. A woodpecker, also sacred to Mars, brought them food as well.
The wolf always gets all the credit, while the woodpecker is left to bang its head against a tree.

However, you don't want to see a woodpecker on St. Valentine's Day, not if you want to get married. Some Valentine's Day traditions and symbolism.
posted by pracowity at 4:43 AM on February 14, 2008


From the BBC article:
Valentine's Day has spawned celebrations of love beyond western culture. In Japan and Korea, Valentine's has become almost an obligation for women to give chocolates, known as giri-choco, to all of their co-workers. A reciprocal day on 14th of March known as White Day has emerged in recent times whereby men are supposed to thank those who remembered them on Valentine's Day with white chocolate or marshmallows, hence white day.
I've always wondered how the Japanese and Korean traditions of giri-choco got started, since in most of the West, the obligation tends to fall on the man.
posted by canine epigram at 4:47 AM on February 14, 2008


I thought love was a battlefield.
posted by davelog at 4:57 AM on February 14, 2008


Love is lust plus trust.
posted by pax digita at 5:29 AM on February 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Love is luck plus strips of goat.
posted by Spacelegoman at 5:33 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any way I read this it seems like someone should be giving me food today.
posted by Wolfdog at 5:37 AM on February 14, 2008


1969: The (Last) Summer of Love
posted by DU at 5:43 AM on February 14, 2008




Love is like a bottle of gin.
posted by m0nm0n at 5:57 AM on February 14, 2008


The church decided to come up with its own lottery and so the feast of St. Valentine featured a lottery of Saints. One would pull the name of a saint out of a box, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that saint.
See, this is what happens when you let a guy who’s sworn never to marry run your religion. “Hey kids! You know what’s even more fun than girls? That’s right, studying!”
posted by JDHarper at 6:19 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Curse you. Now I have a song stuck in my head.

"I'd rather be working for a paycheck / than waiting to win the lottery"

At least it's not 'Love is a Battlefield'...
posted by Bugg at 7:28 AM on February 14, 2008


HR said "no" to my query about a playful goat-leather-female-colleague-spanking run.

*sigh*
posted by everichon at 7:47 AM on February 14, 2008


So, it was originally about fertility and now it's a date on which people send themselves presents? Funny evolution.

and pax digita: love is lust plus trust is unbeatable.
posted by micayetoca at 7:48 AM on February 14, 2008


My Confirmation name is "Valentine". My mom thought I picked it because it was my great-grandfather's middle name. I picked it because I thought it sounded cool.
posted by Lucinda at 8:57 AM on February 14, 2008


ZeFrank on Lupercalia
posted by Toekneesan at 9:11 AM on February 14, 2008


Aw, man. I had this post all lined up but have been ugly-sick the past few days and just couldn't put it together. Good work, asok.

One cool thing about Lupercalia this year is that the people restoring Augustus' palace in Rome last year found a grotto 30 feet down while drilling. They think it's Lupercale, the lost cave that Romans used to honor Romulus and Remus on these days.
posted by carsonb at 9:20 AM on February 14, 2008


when I win the lottery: gonna buy all the girls on my block silver-plated six shooters and a quart of the finest highland scotch
posted by dorian at 9:49 AM on February 14, 2008


"Love is a snowmobile racing across the tundra and then suddenly it flips over, pinning you underneath. At night, the ice weasels come."
posted by Bernt Pancreas at 9:52 AM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


HR said "no" to my query about a playful goat-leather-female-colleague-spanking run.

Did you mention that you would be naked? Cause, depending on your physique, that could change the "No" to a "Hell, Yes."
posted by nooneyouknow at 10:02 AM on February 14, 2008


The church decided to come up with its own lottery and so the feast of St. Valentine featured a lottery of Saints. One would pull the name of a saint out of a box, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that saint.

See, this is what happens when you let a guy who’s sworn never to marry run your religion. “Hey kids! You know what’s even more fun than girls? That’s right, studying!”


Oh man...Simeon Stylites again? Valentine's day sucks!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 11:04 AM on February 14, 2008


Love is, in fact, a battlefield. Pat Benetar didn't heroically shake her tits at a vaguely pimpish guy in the eponymous historical documentary so that we would stand for this sort of revisionist history. No one can tell me I'm wrong.
posted by DecemberBoy at 12:53 PM on February 14, 2008


Then, of course, there's St. Ermintrude, Patron of Unrequited Love and Returned Love Letters. Ermintrude, Benedictine and mystic poet, was born near Split, Yugoslavia, in 1493 or '94; died, Hacker-Pschorr, Germany, 1519. Her short life was one of monastic observance, intellectual curiousity, and was distinguished by a conflicting abundance of unconfirmed miracles. Little is known of her before her seventeenth year, when she suddenly appears in the local registry as the shepherdess charged with tending the church's flock—a record which mentions her irresponsibility, and a tendency toward reverie and unexplained disappearances. Her biographers make frequent note of her beauty and ability to win hearts, and detail exceptional aptitudes for a mere peasant girl. These may have contributed to her entering the alumnate in 1510, where she made remarkable progress both in virtue and in education. Ermintrude would eventually become an irreplaceable helpmate to the Abbess, who entrusted in her the care of the monastery's small library. The autobiographical account of her nine years of religious life, handwritten as poems in the margins of the library's codices, reveals Ermintrude's adherence to the principles of reason and faith, and occurrences of inexplicable grace which only served to cement her obedience to God. Although her heroic virtue and value as confessor do not seem to be in doubt, the multiform miracles attributed to her—the raising the axe-head to the surface of the water, the curing of the loup-garou, the deluge of gars, channeling of robocop is bleeding, divine visions and prophecies both fulfilled and unfulfilled, suckling of orphaned wolf pups, multiple resurrections of goatherds—remain to be proven, and Ermintrude has never been officially beatified. This is perhaps also owing to an embarrassing cache of letters addressed to her found in the papers of the Abbott, unopened and apparently unread, on the outside of one she is rumored to have written: "Please cease or I shall be forced to summon the sheriff and have you restrained." A feast is still celebrated in her honor, however, generally on the day given for her death, February 15th, or the Sunday following. This is the day on which Chaucer notes in his Parliament of Foules, that all paired birds put away forever the disappointing gifts given to them by their chosen mates:
Thys was done on Seynt Urmyntrude's daye,
Whan hath every foule's love yoverstay.
posted by steef at 6:30 PM on February 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Nice, steef.

Thanks, carsonb. Like your grotto!
posted by asok at 4:33 AM on February 15, 2008


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