Valentine’s Day is a special day celebrated by millions of people around the world. But how did it come to be? The answer lies in the ancient Roman festival of Lupercalia which was adopted and adapted by the Church to create the holiday we know today. This article will somewhat explore how this transformation took place and how evolved over time. What is Lupercalia?
Lupercalia was a fertility festival celebrated in Ancient Rome, more attributed to lust than love in ancient times. Over time, the Catholic Church adapted this festival to create the holiday we know today – Valentine’s Day.
The origins of Lupercalia are not fully understood. It is thought to have originated as a sacrificial cult that worshipped the Great Goddess. A wild goat was sacrificed on this day and its blood would be used to anoint the heads of young girls and initiate them into the cult. Young men would do battle with each other in order to win a prize such as marriage, money, or land in what is thought to be a fertility ritual. Unsafe abortions were also commonly done at this time, so the goddess could bestow health and fertility onto the initiate.
The women who won these prizes were often called epulas while their husbands were called famuli/famulari. These terms are used to this day in juridical contexts. There is a plaque with the inscription “Epulae et famuli in urbe Roma” (“epulas and familiars at Rome”) on the façade of the Palazzo dei Conservatori. The word “famulus” is a Latin derivative of the Roman term famulus, which originally simply meant “servant”. In ancient Rome, a slave who had been freed was called a famulus (and thus the term became synonymous with slave) who could become either an ordinary servant or a staff member in some important office. After gaining his freedom and becoming rich, a man might use his wealth to support slaves who would do anything he asked and serve as his familiars. Slaves freed by their masters were also called famuli. Within certain levels of society, the first slave was the owner’s wife, who could not be forced to work outside the home.
The Roman Republic and, later, the Roman Empire allowed slaves to buy their freedom. Slaves who achieved sufficient merit might be granted citizenship by the state and allowed to enter public life. In ancient China during imperial times (between 600 BC/200 AD), people were classified as slaves if captured in war; those enslaved would have their individual liberty taken from them if they were unable or unwilling to perform labor for a period of time ranging from one month (in some cases) up to three years without probation. Persons could also be sentenced to forced labor if they were convicted of a jailable offense, such as murder. The law also granted authorities the ability to sentence persons convicted of non-jailable offenses to forced labor for up to nine months.
When the Catholic Church came to power, it tried to do away with cultural and pagan practices that it believed would get in the way of people’s salvation. Lupercalia, a holiday based on lust and fertility, was not one they could encourage celebration of, especially while encouraging practices of chastity and purity. As a result, the Church banned Lupercalia in AD 404. And now we have a neat and tidy Valentine’s day.
Valentine’s Day is not the only day that has a rocky holiday history. The Catholic Church also tried to make the date of Christmas conform to the date of Jesus’ birth. It took some time for them to get it right, though..The first mention in Church history notes that December 25th was celebrated as Christ’s birthday in AD 336 by Pope Julius I and others that he appointed, but there is no evidence that December 25th was actually celebrated then or even at all during Jesus’ lifetime.
2nd Century – Church Father Irenaeus was the first to write about it: “For our Lord’s birthday shall be yearly observed on the 25th of March, on which day He rose from the dead.”
3rd Century – Church Father Tertullian wrote about it: “This day [December 25th] is that on which our Lord Jesus Christ, the son of God, was born according to the flesh.”
4th Century – Church Father Hippolytus in The Liturgy of the Hours writes: “On December 25th, Christ our God is born!”
5th Century – Pope Pius I in AD 525 decreed that December 25th would be celebrated as the day when Christianity began.
6th Century – Church Father Isidore of Seville wrote about it: “This day [December 25th] . . . we celebrate with joy and gladness in honor of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was born according to the flesh”
1400 – Renaissance scholar Petrarch wrote about the use of candles on this day: “On December 25th, in imitation of the birthday of Christ, there should be no light save such as is given by a candle.
“1569 – Bishop John Calvin wrote about Christmas celebrations… and so on and so on until we have the Christmas holiday we know and love today.
I am not discouraging you from celebrating holidays with your family. I hope you have plenty of opportunities to hang out and dwell in divine love; however, I do think we should be knowledgeable about what the holidays mean and how they came to be.
Christian books are a great way to grow in faith and learn more about God. If you want to start reading Christian books this year, here are some of the best ones that you should read.
– “The Shack” by William P. Young: This is one of the most popular Christian books that is loved by all Christians around the world. The book has sold over 15 million copies and has been translated into 50 languages. It tells a story about Mackenzie Allen Phillips who receives a letter from God inviting him to visit him at his home in the woods.
– “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel: This is one of the most compelling testimonies of faith ever published, which will make any skeptic think again about what they believe in and why they believe it. The book follows an investigative journalist as he sets out on a journey to disprove Christianity only to discover some amazing truths that point towards Jesus Christ being who he claimed he was – the Son of
-“The Power of a Praying Parent” by Stormie Omartian. It has been translated into more than 26 languages and sold more than 10 million copies.The book is about how a mother’s prayers can change her children’s lives, and it shows parents how to pray for their children in every area of their lives.
-“How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk” by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish. This book teaches parents how to communicate with kids through empathy, negotiation, and mutual problem solving in order to solve conflicts without yelling or punishment.
– “Women Evolve: Break up with Your Fears and Revolutionize your Life” by Sarah Jakes Roberts. This book is a spirit filled memoir reminding us that your path in life doesn’t change but evolves and God’s purpose for your life remains.
– “Wholehearted Faith” by Rachel Evans This book discusses the importance of not being too hard on oneself when choosing to make a significant life changes.
– “Don’t Settle for Safe” by Sarah Jakes Roberts is a bold and often humorous call to action for believers to live full lives, free of fear.
– “You are the Girl for the Job: Daring to Believe the God Who Calls You” Jess Connelly is a love letter to all young women who ever felt their dreams were too big. It shares how she overcame seemingly insurmountable obstacles, insecurities, and roadblocks to become a leading voice in a generation.
– “The Word Before Work” by Jordan Raynor is a devotional helping remind us to surrender our plans and lives to God.
– “Liturgy of the Ordinary” by Tish Warren is an invitation to live a more meaningful life by recognizing and nurturing the sacred moments in our lives.
– “Life of the Beloved: Spiritual Living in Secular World” by Henri Nouwen is Henri Nouwen’s spiritual autobiography focuses on the struggles he faced in his life and how he lived out the gospel. He discusses his upbringing, education, and early years as a priest. In this book, Nouwen describes how human beings are called to live in love, hope and faith despite the difficulties of life.
AND BY THE WAY IS where the name of this blog started.
Woman Evolve is a book that is written by Sarah Jakes Roberts. The book is about the role of women in Christianity and the evolution of women over time. The author discusses her own journey as a woman and how she has evolved over time.
The author talks about how Eve was originally created to be subservient to Adam but through the years, Eve has gained more power and control over her life. She also talks about how God has been evolving as well, with His thoughts on what women should do evolving with time.
The book also talks about how there are still many issues that need to be addressed such as the wage gap between men and women, sexual harassment in the workplace, and sexual abuse in general.
In Woman Evolve, author and pastor Sarah Jakes Roberts shares her thoughts on how faith has shaped her life. From being a woman to overcoming adversity and finding a purpose in life, this memoir discusses what it’s like to grow up in the church and how one becomes a woman of God. Woman Evolve is also a beautifully written memoir that tells the story of Sarah’s life. The book opens with a brief description of what it was like to grow up in the church and how she came to find herself as a woman through conversations with her pastor parents. As she continues on, she shares her struggles and triumphs that brought herself to this point in life, where she has found peace through faith—even when surrounded by chaos.
If you haven’t read this book, I hope this encourages you to pick it up. If you’ve already read this book, how has reading it helped you?
Since our topic for the week is gratitude and praise, I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite gospel songs: J Moss’ Praise on the Inside. My favorite lyric is “ There’s a praise on the inside that I can’t keep to myself/ A halle- stirring up from the depths of my soul”
Don’t take my word for it and go listen for yourself.
And remember, as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
As you can see, I started off Women’s History Month talking about the “bad girls” of the Bible. I wanted to take a moment to talk about the women who are vilified by Christianity in sermons, in children’s stories, just everywhere. Even people who do not read the Bible know the story of Eve, who is said to have sent the world into chaos by eating a fruit.
In the genre of vilified women, I would like to recommend a book. Please note that as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.