Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Seedy, Scandalous History of Valentine's Day

Forget roses, chocolates and candlelight dinners. On Valentine's Day, that's rather boring stuff -- at least according to ancient Roman standards.

Imagine half-naked men running through the streets, whipping young women with bloodied thongs made from freshly cut goat skins. Although it might sound like some sort of perverted sadomasochistic ritual, this is what the Romans did until A.D. 496.

Mid-February was Lupercalia (Wolf Festival) time. Celebrated on Feb. 15 at the foot of the Palatine Hill beside the cave where, according to tradition, the she-wolf had suckled Romulus and Remus, the festival was essentially a purification and fertility rite.

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