Monday, February 14, 2011

Drunk and Naked and Running Wild

Internet source unknown

It wasn't always all chocolate hearts and roses. It wasn't always so romantic. The Romans had a way about them, and legend has it that in the third centurywhen public showing of pagan rituals hadn't yet been outlawedduring the days from February 13th through the 15th, the Romans celebrated Lupercalia (named after Lupa, a she-wolf who cared for Remus and Romulus)a festival in which the city was purified, evil spirits released, and health and fertility channeled. It was a bloody indulgent mess.

Goats and dogs were slain as sacrifice. In the name of Fertility, women were willingly slapped with the bloody hides of those slain animals. There was a matchmaking lottery, and men drew women's names from an urn. They all paired up and everyone got drunk and naked and ran around with goatskin thongs, the same with which the women were lashed.

And because the Romans made better lovers than fighters, their Emperor, Claudius II, forbid single men from marrying, lest they'd never leave their love making for war making. This is when a righteous guy named Valentine (maybe a priest) defied Claudius's order and performed secret marriages for young lovers. In return, Claudius ordered Valentine's death on, perhaps, February 14th. But before he was executed, Valentine was imprisoned, and fell in love with the jailor's daughter, to whom he wrote a loving letter that he signed: "From your Valentine."

There you have it. Oh what a time it was.

But things changed in the fifth century when the church decided to "christianize" the pagan festival, and the Roman lottery system for matchmaking and other rites were outlawed. The festival was civilized (or done away with) by the church, and Lupercalia went the way of Byzantine sports. I suppose this was for the best, as both running around drunk and naked, and chariot racing, could be rather dangerous.

Well, I don't know about you, but I kind of prefer the old Roman way. Down and dirty, drunk and naked (except for the fertility flogging). And no mass marketing, no cards or chocolates or roses.

And here, one more civilized thing for your day of hearts and lovin' (in the language of love):

I want to sing to you eternal stories,
And of falling suns and full moons, and dark nights...


  1. Well that was an informative and fun post. I think I'd still prefer chocolate.

  2. i'm in it for the candy. every feb 15 is stock up on enough half price candy to hold me until the day after easter. then it's a long wait until nov 1.

  3. that title certainly makes it worth reading. But I think chocolates beat goatskin thongs, tho

  4. Hilary- Believe me, I'll take the chocolates!

    BP- Lololol. I may be out there with you!

    David- I sure know how to stoop for hits, don't I? One of your posts actually inspired the New York Post type headline. It will be fun to see how much traffic I get today. ;)

  5. Very interesting! Yeah, drunk and naked sounds pretty exciting. :)

  6. I'm against the whole concept- Love, Sex, Chocolate...(Wait...what kind of chocolate?)

  7. I can't imagine those goatskin thongs were comfy.

    Great post! I was hoping to see an historical post pop up.

  8. I liked your post, informative and fun at the same time. But I don't like the Valentine's day because it became a commercialized holiday.

  9. Oh I can remember those roman days :) A little too old and saggy for a goat thong but I have my memories, baby :)
    Happy Valentine's Day!
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  10. A lottery? That's intriguing. I guess that's why the booze were flowing so readily in case you stuck with one of the less appealing of the bunch.

  11. nice post! educational and comical i must say. lol. well hope you had a lovely valentine's day Jayne!:)

  12. Gives a whole new meaning to: "Pick me! Pick me!"

  13. Susan- I knew there was a wild streak in you. ;)

    Nessa- Yes, that's my problem, too. If I get a box of chocolates, I'm going to devour the whole box. Quickly.

    Lydia- It was fun research!

    Starlight- Agree, 100%. Fun for the kids, though.

    Jules- Same here, really. It's the memories that keep us going. ;)

    Chris- It always helps to have a few!

    Maria- Had a wonderfully quiet day, which was just perfect. Good to see you again! ;)

    rc- Sure does! I'm wondering what goes on where you are. Chocolates, cards, those disgusting sugary stamped hearts?

  14. now that's a holiday I can get behind. drunken naked frolicking.

  15. Ellen- I know. Ain't it great?
    Hope yours was sweet. ;)

  16. Wow. Didn't know any of that- except for "Mr.Valentine":)
    Yeah...I'm thinking it would have been quite a time era in which to live. But I may prefer hiding out alone and eating my box of chocolates with my wine bottle;)

  17. Well, that was a bit of new information....:)

  18. There is always so much more to the story behind holidays than most people realize.

  19. Wow! I don't know about the drunk, naked and being wild thing, but I do like chocolates. And I was going to just write about how I feed my family brussel sprouts and johnny cakes on Valentines . . . what a bore!

  20. That was an interesting post! I'm rather partial to more chocolate and less blood, but hey, whatever makes you happy!

    Thanks for visiting my blog (Blue Country Magic). Writing is hard ... good luck in your efforts!

  21. Dawn- Seems chocolate and wine trumps all! Thanks for the visit. :-)

    Cat- Yes, well old information... and it looks like most of us don't want history repeating itself. Unless it's delicious of course. ;)

    BarbaraL- So very true. And I like foraging for the truffles. :)

    LinAnn- Your gastronomic adventures are never a bore! I would take chocolates over brussel sprouts, though. ;)

    CountryDew- Yes, I think it's good that we've evolved (somewhat) since the Romans. ;)
    Thanks for stopping in!

  22. Hmm yes the imbibition of fiery spirits, the total disregard for garments sounds like something I do often. The lashing however is a private thing and I prefer to be lashed by goatskins by a thong wearing goddess, who gets drunk and tears it off anyway, so don't tell anybody ok?

  23. Dan- You're secret is safe with me. ;)

  24. Never too late to get sucked in by a lurid headline, here I am. ;)

    The Missus and I have settled into a Valentine's groove, which sometimes involves drunkenness (but only incidentally), nakedness (only during our morning showers, though), and/or conversations which run wildly away with and/or from us. We do the cards thing, though (always at least two apiece, sometimes more -- one LOL or sly-dig-in-the-ribs in nature, and one purty). This year she got a bonus card, because I discovered one on the American Greetings site which I simply could not pass up. It involved a talking Chihuahua in a tuxedo, and if that doesn't cry "Be my Valentine!" you're just not thinking hard enough.

    And I also do her an annual Valentine's mix CD (which, I suspect, I listen to more often than she does).

    Of course, all that is NOW. We had our Lupercalian romps, though. (Some of which continue to be fertile allusional ground in greeting cards and/or CD playlist.)

  25. Haha! JES- see the is exactly why I should have changed the title of this post! Although I'm happy to know that there are still those out there, who, like me, have their own special Lupercalian customs, or versions of thedrunk, naked and running wild valentine. Then or now, it's encouraging.

    And you come bearing music and two cards? Over the top! Doesn't Hallmark love you.

    Now I'm going to slip over to that American Greetings site to see what perversions I might find... ;)