|Dreamy James McAvoy as Mr. Tumnus|
Did you know that the origin of Valentine's day celebrations lays in an early Roman, pre-christian pagan festival known as Lupercalia? And that it was a celebration of fertility, aimed at expiating and purifying new life before the Spring? As described by Plutarch:
<< Lupercalia, of which many write ... was anciently celebrated by shepherds, and has also some connection with the Arcadian Lycaea. At this time many of the noble youths and of the magistrates run up and down through the city naked, for sport and laughter striking those they meet with shaggy thongs. And many women of rank also purposely get in their way, and like children at school present their hands to be struck, believing that the pregnant will thus be helped in delivery, and the barren to pregnancy.>>*
<< Lupercalia was a very ancient, possibly pre-Roman pastoral festival, observed on February 13 through 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility. Lupercalia subsumed Februa, an earlier-origin spring cleansing ritual held on the same date, which gives the month of February (Februarius) its name. The name Lupercalia was believed in antiquity to evince some connection with the Ancient Greek festival of the Arcadian Lykaia (from Ancient Greek: λύκος — lukos, "wolf", Latin lupus) and the worship of Lycaean Pan, assumed to be a Greek equivalent to Faunus, as instituted by Evander. In Roman mythology, Lupercus is a god sometimes identified with the Roman god Faunus, who is the Roman equivalent of the Greek god Pan. Lupercus is the god of shepherds. His festival, celebrated on the anniversary of the founding of his temple on February 15, was called the Lupercalia.>>**
It was not until 496 AD that the Pope, Gelasius, declared 14 February to be St Valentine's Day, a Christian feast day. This is likely to have been an if-you-can't-beat-them-join-them approach to the still-popular pagan festival of Lupercalia.
I would much rather celebrate a pagan fertility tradition than the overflow of hearts and glorification of great romantic gestures that Hallmark has made of this day. And if it will "help bring the barren to pregnancy" I am up for it. Now I just have to convince the boy to wear a goats skin while running around in his birth suit. Hmmm. Not sure if he's up for it.
It is snowing and all this writing about Fauns got me thinking about Mr. Tumnus and Lucy. I will not sacrifice a dog or a goat, but I will attempt to make salt mealcakes (whatever those are). Who knows... maybe it'll work.
* Plutarch. Life of Caesar.
** From our dear wikipedia.
First image from here, second, original illustration by Pauline Bynes from here.