Valentine’s Day: The Roman Festival of Lupercalia?

February 11, 2009 | By | 2 Replies More

No matter what critics say about the rampant commercialism of the occasion, Valentine’s sales from greeting cards, flowers, jewelry, and chocolates go up every year. In 2004 alone, about one billion cards are sent  all over the world; a third of the seven billion pounds of candy/chocolates consumed that year was sold on Valentine’s day; 110 million roses were sold and more or less $2.4 billion worth of jewelry were bought and given away as gifts.

But how did the whole thing start? Although there are many versions of this particular history, there are only two likely relevant and reliable stories to be  attributed to this ancient celebration.

According to the Catholic church, we celebrate the occasion to honor the martyred Saint Valentinus, a third-century priest who defied the orders of Emperor Claudius II not to perform marriage rites to members of his Army. The emperor believed that his troops should only be composed of single and unattached men. Emeperor Claudius ordered the priest beheaded on Feb 14 270AD for disobeying orders.  But delving deeper into its origin, another interesting explanation emerges dating back to the ancient Roman fertility & purification festival then popularly known as Lupercalia.

The feast ran from February 13-15 and parts of the celebration included the anointing of young naked males who would go around and strike young women with a strip of goatskin (goats then being a symbol of sexual vigor). It was believed that this would bestow fertility to those struck (reminscient of Cupid striking with the amorous arrow).

On February 14th, names of unmarried maidens and young men were drawn and paired off to be lovers for a year. In essence, this ancient tradition was Christianized by adopting it into the catholic church official calendar. The feast was officially incorporated in 496 AD but was later dropped only to be reinstated in 1969, to continue into the present-day celebration of the Feast of St. Valentine.

Among the most popular gifts for Valentine’s Day includes jewelry which arguably is the most meaningful and enduring of all.

Apples of Gold offers quality and unique heart jewelry, diamond heart necklaces, and heart rings, including the unique 0.92 carat blue diamond heart pendant (shown above), the Heart Wedding Band in 14K Two-Tone Gold (shown middle)  and the 0.25 Carat Heart Journey Necklace (shown left).

Visit Apples of Gold to secure that perfect Valentine’s Day Gift with fine gold jewelry, diamonds, and gemstones.

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Jewelry History

About the Author ()

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Hal says:

    It’ll be interesting to see if sales across the board for V-day this year are up over last year or down.

    I know that the flower companies in our area are down. One business owner reported that they expect a 20% decline in sales automatically because it falls on a Saturday and historically that’s what happens for them in the past.

    But with the economy I think people will be more frugal and creative.

    Time will tell.

  2. Hi Hal, Yes that would be interesting, indeed. I believe we do have to take into consideration the present economic situation. But in the end, it should not be how much you spent for your loved one, but how sincere you show your affections. :-)

Leave a Reply