Seasons & Sabbats Winter

Lupercalia: Celebrate the Pagan Valentine’s Day in a Modern Way

What inspired the modern Valentine’s Day? Sure, there was a Saint involved, but where did it originally come from? Lupercalia, an Ancient Roman festival for fertility and purification. Some call it the Pagan Valentine’s Day. Don’t want to celebrate Valentine’s Day and get sucked into the commercialism of it all? Celebrate Lupercalia and have a bloody blast!!!

What is Lupercalia?

Lupercalia is an ancient Roman festival of fertility and purification. It’s celebrated from February 14th to the 15th and predates Valentine’s Day by centuries! Every year, the ancient Romans would perform rituals and then throw parties all in the name of purification. To purify the city of Rome on this festival guaranteed a good crop, plenty of pregnant ladies, and overall good health and happy people. Some sources suggest Lupercalia predates even ancient Rome! The name is linked to the wolf (lupus) and therefore the priesthood, the Luperci, were the Brotherhood of the Wolf.

Ancient Lupercalia Customs: The Hott and the Horrendous

In addition to being linked to the wolf, Lupercalia was a “breastfeeding” festival and tied to the founders of Rome – Romulus and Remus and a nursing-goddess Rumina. Our readers know we don’t candy coat things. We’re going to look at the hott Lupercalia customs of the ancient Romans and also address the disturbing ones. Don’t worry, we’ll warn you beforehand!

Know that we don’t support or condone any kind of ritual sacrifice, but we are including it here for historical purposes ONLY. Nearly every ancient culture sacrificed animals at some point in time but that doesn’t make it right.

The Sacrificial Custom (Warning!)

We know most ancient cultures sacrificed animals and other things to their gods to ensure various ostentatious results. The ancient Romans were no different. Every Lupercalia, the priesthood (called the Luperci) was summoned to a cave with the Lupercal altar to sacrifice a goat and a dog. Ensuring a good bounty for the year. Then the priests were anointed with the goat’s blood on their foreheads, made whips from the goat’s hide, and took to the city.

The Hott (Albeit Wild) Fertility Customs

So Lupercalia, being an ancient fertility festival, was very much a day when the ancient Romans celebrated sexuality. One particular Lupercalia tradition involved the young priests and noblemen running through the city streets (ahem, naked) with whips. Anyone they saw they would strike. City visitors claim the women welcomed the whipping and some even “bared their skin”. This custom ensured good fertility for the year – procreation and produce – because it supposedly scared off the evil spirits. In addition, on the Pagan Valentine’s Day, there was feasting, love-making, and debauchery of different kinds.

Lupercalia was celebrated in ancient rome and was the first valentine's day.

7 Ways to Celebrate Lupercalia, the Pagan Valentine’s Day

Clearly we’re not going to engage in the brutal ancient customs of the Romans, BUT we can celebrate Lupercalia in our own modern way. This is particularly a fun holiday to celebrate if you dislike Valentine’s Day, don’t have a lover, or just want to try something different. Mix and match or choose just one. But have a fun Lupercalia!

1. Cleansing & Purging

Lupercalia is in the month of February, and it was also called dies Februatus by the ancient Romans. Februatus translates to “purge”. Therefore, if you don’t want to celebrate the pagan Valentine’s Day with love-making and feasting, make it a day of cleansing and purging. Get rid of what no longer serves you in the physical. Including clutter in your space (think junky closets, pantries, fridge, etc.) and then cleanse the negative vibrations via smoke-cleansing.

In addition, purging yourself of negative thoughts and habits and cleansing your aura via a hot ritual bath. The great thing about Lupercalia is that you don’t have to focus on another person (as with Valentine’s Day) but you can focus on yourself!

2. Feast on the Pagan Valentine’s Day!

Whether you have a love interest or not, Lupercalia is about celebrating what we have on this earthly plane. It’s the perfect day to throw a feast! Make a big, gluttonous dinner and invite friends over to eat, drink and be merry. Choose foods that are traditional Roman or Italian, red sauces, wine, and other red foods. Aphrodisiacs are appropriate if you are getting romantic with the meal including strawberries, oysters, chocolate, etc. And dairy to represent the milk aspect of Lupercalia like fancy cheeses and charcuterie.

3. Drink Wine

The Romans were all about their wine. If you want to do Lupercalia right, you gotta drink the wine, folks! Red is best to represent love and passion. Be sure to make a toast to the ancient Romans and a fertile life before drinking the wine. Clink your glasses together to scare off the bad spirits lurking in the wine. Setting up an altar for the god of wine Dionysus or Bacchus is also appropriate.

4. Make Love

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. OR when it’s Lupercalia, do as the Romans do. And make love! It doesn’t have to be in the streets. In fact, we recommend finding a private place. Public indecency is a crime nowadays. 😉 Or simply celebrate your right to love who you choose.

5. Fertility Rituals

Trying to conceive? Or maybe you have no desire for a baby at all. Either way, fertility isn’t just about conceiving children. It also relates to prosperity and growth of nearly any other goal in life: career success, your passions like art, etc. Lupercalia is a powerful day to do fertility spells and rituals of any kind!

6. Wear Red and White

So, you’re going to love this. This is SO heavy metal. On Lupercalia, the Pagan Valentine’s Day, if you can’t do anything else – wear red and white. Why? Not for Saint Valentine, but to represent the blood of sacrifice and the white of milk. This is the origins of Valentine’s Day colors.

7. Creative Endeavors on Lupercalia

Since Lupercalia is a fertile time, creativity is given a boost in different aspects. Have you been waiting for the right time to start a new project? To learn a new skill? Engage in some sort of arts and crafts to celebrate Lupercalia and the inspiration will not flow short.

How to Celebrate Pagan Valentine's Day, aka Lupercalia!

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  1. Jessica

    February 24, 2022 at 5:59 pm

    Wow, no suggestion of hosting a singles party and putting the women’s names in a jar to draw for couples for the night!! Like a pagan spin the bottle haha (actually that sounds like fun, sex isn’t necessary but an impromptu date? Could be awesome)

    1. Steve Carnes

      February 13, 2023 at 5:24 pm

      That’s a great idea! Being 70, I’m a little too late for it, though.

  2. 3 POWERFUL Attract Love Spells and Rituals - Otherworldly Oracle

    February 10, 2020 at 5:12 pm

    […] you can’t get on board with the consumerist notions of Valentine’s day, perhaps you’d like to celebrate Lupercalia with some good ole fashioned attract love […]

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