Those Romans Had a Good Idea

According to this article on the origins of Valentine’s day, the Romans, in their festival of Lupercalia had a “lover’s lottery”:

Roman armies took the Lupercalia customs with them as they invaded France and Britain. One of these was a lottery where the names of available maidens were placed in a box and drawn out by the young men. Each man accepted the girl whose name he drew as his love – for the duration of the festival, or sometimes longer.

Sounds like a cure for the anti-single-person nature of our modern Valentine’s Day.

Of course, when the ancient Catholic church subsumed Roman culture, the Pope dismissed the festival as pagan and immoral. (This may have had something to do with the naked men sacrificing a goat, wearing the goat skins, and hitting women in the streets with strips of goat hides to give them good luck and fertility.) He replaced it with a considerably more boring ritual:

The church decided to come up with its own lottery and so the feast of St. Valentine featured a lottery of Saints. One would pull the name of a saint out of a box, and for the following year, study and attempt to emulate that saint.

See, this is what happens when you let a guy who’s sworn never to marry run your religion. “Hey kids! You know what’s even more fun than girls? That’s right, studying!”

In any case, I hope you have a better Valentine’s Day than I’m having right now; I’ve got a sore throat that hurts whenever I swallow or talk. For once, I’m kind of glad I don’t have a girlfriend today, because that would mean talking.

But, you know, I wouldn’t turn the lottery down.

Comments are closed.