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Lupercalia

(15 February)


Lupercalia

Lupercalia was a festival in honor of the god Faun or originally ancient Roman god of shepherds Lupercus, who protected their herds from wolves. The holiday was to be established by the mythological Ewander. An important role during the Lupercalia was played by the cult of the aforementioned Faun – a Roman deity, half human, half goat. The holiday was associated with the Roman legend of Faustulus, a shepherd who was to find the twins (Romulus and Remus) in the wolf’s lair and take him to his home, where they were to be raised by his wife, Acca Larentia.

Wolf’s head, dated 1st century CE. The festival derives its name from the words lupus, or “wolf”.
Author: Wmpearl | Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication

The festival was celebrated in the Lupercal cave in the Palatine, where, according to beliefs, the legendary founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus, were fed by a she-wolf. Then sacrifices were made of two goats and a dog, and priests called Luperki, dressed only in the skin of a newly killed goat, circled the Palatine Hill and struck passers-by with straps (februa) from the skins of sacrificial animals. Childless women gave in to blows, which was supposed to guarantee fertility, and to others encountered – cleansing from blemish and blemish last year. The practice of loupes was to introduce a new element to the human body to strengthen life and creative forces.
Luperkalia are probably the prototype of today’s Valentine’s Day.

Sources

  • Jaczynowska Maria, Religie świata rzymskiego, Warszawa 1987
  • Zieliński Tadeusz, Religia Rzeczypospolitej Rzymskiej

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