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Thursday, 14 February 2013

St Valentine and the wolves.

St Valentine, we send your cards,
and yet we know, it's not your day.

Our customs seem remote from you --
more Lupercalia, they say.

Then priests with leather thongs 
would strike and cure the sterile girls --

and at the same time use the charm
to banish wolves that roamed the hills.

The tradition of St Valentine's Day (some say) is a remembrance of Rome's earliest days when ravenous wolves roamed the countryside where shepherds grazed their sheep. These shepherds were the earliest inhabitants of Rome. Watching over these shepherds and their flocks was the God named Lupercus (lupus = "wolf"). The Feast of Lupercalia was celebrated on the 13th and 14th of February to honour Lupercus. Maidens who were "up for it" would put their names in a box and the lads would draw lots. The pairings would hold good for a year. With the coming of Christianity the church attempted to replace the pagan festival with one of its own. Youths and maidens drew names from the box, but the names of saints, whose lives they were meant to emulate for a year. The church chose St Valentine to replace the pagan Lupercus.

10 comments:

Dick said...

Another example of what sounds like an excellent day off suffocated by the Church! Restore Lupercalia, I say!

kaykuala said...

Definitely a twist from the usual Valentine Day happenings of the present. It sounded lots of fun. Nicely Dave!

Hank

Grace said...

An interesting custom, thanks for sharing this information ~

Brian Miller said...

ha. really like those last 2 stanzas...it is interesting how we have taken pagan traditions and twisted them....

Tommaso Gervasutti said...

Surprising and delicious, with powerful, earthly, archetypal echoes.

Mary said...

This was interesting, Dave. I had not thought (for a long time) of the origin of Valentine's Day! Hope you had a happy one.

A Cuban In London said...

A very intersting background story to the day when I celebrate my mother's birthday. Wait until I e-mail her!

A very good poem, too. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Ygraine said...

Yes, the church has a lot to answer for...most of our customs have been either stamped out, or else stolen.
Think I'll start a "Restore Lupercalia" movement!! Hehe:D

Dave King said...

Dick
Ah yes, if only we could gather up all those lost days off, what a holiday we could have!

Hank
Thanks for this. Yes, I wrote it in my note book quite a time ago and saw it there few days back.
Thought I'd give it an airing...

Grace
Thank you Grace.

Brian
Yes, a fascinating area for study.

Tommaso
Appreciate these comments. Thank you..

Mary
I did, thank you - a very happy one. Hope you did also.

A Cuban in London
Hope you didn't scare your mum too muc with your tales of wolves!

Ygraine
Re-cycled, perhaps we might say i n a spirit of generosity!!




manicddaily said...

Yikes - wolves of all kinds here! Well told. k.