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*smooches you all*

Aww, it is Valentine's Day! Le cute. :)

I hope that you have all been checking out the messages on 021407. Some of you have reason to, y'know! ;)

Edit: now with bonus discussion of the 'relationship' between Valentine's Day and the Lupercalia in the comments!


( 20 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:16 am (UTC)
I've always wondered how Valentines Day relates to Lupercalia (tomorrow I know). Being all-knowing on matters Roman, do you know if there's any connection?
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:37 am (UTC)
This comes up quite regularly, but personally I don't see much link. OK, so the Lupercalia seems to have had a fertility aspect, but so did lots of ancient religious festivals. It also has elements relating to purification and the foundation of Rome - although even the Romans weren't really very sure what it was all about. They just knew they'd done it every year, and acquired a huge and prosperous empire, so they carried on doing it, not wanting to rock the boat!

Some of the different interpretations you get in the literary sources are as follows:

* Festival in honour of Pan - Dion. Hal. 1.80.1; Plut Roman Questions 3
* Commemoration of foundation / flood - Ovid, Fasti 2.381; Plutarch Romulus 21; Augustine, City of God 18.12
* Purification - Plutarch Romulus 21, Numa 19 and Roman Questions 3; Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 1.80.1; Varro On the Latin Language 6.13
* Fertility - Plut Romulus 21 and Caesar 61

I don't have time to give hotlinks to the references right now (that's just copied and pasted from one of my levcture handouts), but you can see how the picture is rather confused, and there isn't really a very direct link with romantic love in any of the above.

Others have suggested that it's more directly linked with Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (later moved to Feb 2nd), and that sounds more plausible to me. Valentine's Day is much too modern a construct, but at least the date for Candlemas was set in the 5th cent AD.
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:43 am (UTC)
That seems fair enough to me. I know a lot of Valentine's Day as we know it today was a pretty much Victorian thing.

I actually first came across Lupercalia when in Tunisia of all places, when visiting Sousse. The guide was telling us about it (it being February when we were there). Though he was a bit vague when someone asked if it was a pre-Roman thing.

Thank you for your excellent answer!
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:45 am (UTC)
Ooh, you've been to Sousse? Lucky-lucky-lucky!

I am hoping to get to some of the Roman sites in N. Africa in the context of my next research project, but it'll be some time yet... :(
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
I've been twice :) Both back in the early 1980s.

My mum was a geography teacher, and the school did a geography field trip to Tunisia for the 6th form (back in the days when school trips were on a if you can't afford it you can't go basis). So my dad, sister and I went too for the holiday (I'd be about 11 or 12)

A large amount of the Monty Python Life of Brian set was still in place in Monastir too. My memories of Carthage are that it was very hot, very windy but quite a picturesque place to have a city.
Feb. 14th, 2007 12:19 pm (UTC)
Wow, that is one ace school trip! Good for your Mum.

I'm planning to try to avoid the summer when I go, as I have fair, Celtic skin which really doesn't mix well with hot sun.
Feb. 14th, 2007 12:47 pm (UTC)
And now here's that list in a tidier format, with links where possible:
Feb. 14th, 2007 01:39 pm (UTC)
Hmm certainly from reading those it does seem like they were quite unsure as to the origins of the festival, or even what people were meant to do during it.

I guess it's just coincidence with the modern Valentine's Day - maybe a tenuous revival of a romantic notion of what people did at that time in the past.

Or maybe it's just that people were feeling a bit randy mid-February as the weather starts to get better...
Feb. 14th, 2007 01:47 pm (UTC)
I do think it's interesting that a lot of people obviously want to find an ancient festival that can be identified as the 'origin' of Valentine's Day - just as they do for Christmas, Easter and lots of others. Of course a lot of it is about a modern desire to reject Christian traditions by finding older festivals which they can simply be said to have 'stolen'. But I think there's also an insight into the power of tradition generally there - the idea that the further back we can trace a festival, the more meaningful or significant it is.

And of course, what's most interesting of all from my point of view is that the Romans were up to exactly the same think when they went round tracing the origins of their own festivals to the Greek, the Etruscans or the very foundation of their own city.
Feb. 14th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
It certainly seems that way.

Personally I'm just miserable and don't celebrate any special occasions. I'm not Christian, so generally find Easter and Christmas quite annoying in that all the shops are shut, and there's nothing worth watching on the telly!

Though I do make the effort to go to Whitby twice a year, but that's probably more of an excuse to meet up with people and dress up all Gothy :)
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:36 am (UTC)
I haven't been checking, but then again, I'm reasonably sure I have no need to...
Feb. 14th, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)
Yeah, I wouldn't want you to get your hopes too high... :)

That's not to say you're not lovely, though!
Feb. 14th, 2007 01:59 pm (UTC)

was up at the university at lunchtime, visiting my friend Mike in the biochem dept. Must get up there again with my camera, a lot has changed since I was there!
Feb. 14th, 2007 02:19 pm (UTC)
Well you could give yourself an excuse to come back by visiting me! Most days are actually quite nightmarish in terms of getting enough time to enjoy lunch with someone at the moment, but Thursdays after 1pm are quite good in fact.
Feb. 14th, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
ooh, splendid. I've got stuff to do tomorrow (boring banking/post officey things), but free next week, I think, if you are?
Feb. 14th, 2007 05:09 pm (UTC)
Yes, I am indeed! And it would be lovely to see you.

I finish teaching at 1pm, and my class is in the Parkinson building. So shall we say meet on the steps of said building a shade after 1pm? There's a cafe inside it which is decent enough, or various other places I can suggest if you feel like something more substantial on the day.
Feb. 16th, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)
sounds like a grand plan to me, I'll put it in my diary.
Feb. 14th, 2007 11:36 am (UTC)
Sorry but I can't find your message to me anywhere. Oh well, maybe you forgot or were too busy or something.

Maybe next year...

Feb. 14th, 2007 12:49 pm (UTC)
I wrote it in invisible ink on an invisible piece of paper, and gave it to an invisible owl to take over to you. I'm sure he'll be arriving any time soon... ;)
Feb. 14th, 2007 09:04 pm (UTC)
Wow! That's pretty cool.

Did you sign it or am I going to be bamboozled as to who it's from when it arrives?
( 20 comments — Leave a comment )

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