Origins of Valentine´s Day
Roots of Valentine´s Day lead all the way to pagan festival of Lupercalia in ancient Rome. Lupercalia was a festival dedicated to wolves and there are lots of stories about wolves in Roman mythology. Many of them come from Pre-Roman times. In the Etruscan culture wolf was worshiped as one of the most important totem animals.
Romulus and Remus
Most famous wolf legend is the story of Romulus and Remus. The two brothers who founded the city of Rome. Their mother was a woman called Rhea Silvia who was a priestess in the temple of Vesta (later on she became one of the protector goddesses to the city of Rome). Father of the brothers was Mars the god of war. Rhea Silvia had made an oath to remain as a virgin and she could not tell anyone that she had given birth to twins. Legend tells that she put the children into a basket and took them to the river Tiber and left them there. Boys were found by the wolf goddess Lupa. She took them to her cave which was called Lupercal and raised them like they were her own. One day Lupercus protector god of the shepherds lead one of the shepherds to Lupa´s cave. Shepard and his wife did not have any children of their own so they adopted the boys.
"Lupercalia" by Andrea Camassei
Name of the god Lupercus comes from the Latin word Lupus which means wolf. In Roman mythology Lupercus can be seen as one of the personifications of the god Faunus who was the god of untamed and wild nature. In Greek mythology his counterpart is the great god Pan. Lupercus was sometimes described as a man and sometimes as a wolf. In his human form Lupercus wore wolf furs and goat skins. Lupercus was prayed by the shepherds so that he would not allow wolves to attack their herd.
"Faunus", Roman god of shepherds and pastorage
Lupercus the Wolf Festival
Ceremonies were performed by priests called Luperci. These priests worshiped Lupercus as their patron god and their religious organization was known as the brotherhood of the wolf.In the ceremonies goats and dogs were sacrificed. Goats represented the pastoral life and dog represented wolves. Festivities includes music, singing and dancing. People dressed up into animal furs and wore wolf masks. Foremost Lupercalia was a festival where people celebrated their connection to the wolves and the wolf god. Little cakes which were baked by the Vesta´s priestesses were thrown into bonfire. It was believed that the scent rose into the skies and pleased the gods.
In ancient Rome wolves had a dual role. Wolves were both feared and respected animals and many of their qualities were admired like their hunting kills and that they are very family-oriented animals. Lupercalia was celebrated to honor Lupercus and the wolves and also to celebrate Lupa the wolf mother of Romulus and Remus. Lupercalia can be translated as the festival of the wolf and it was celebrated on the 15thof February.
Around 300- 400 AD Christianity was spreading in the Roman empire leaders of the Catholic church did not approve festival which was all about celebrating humans connection to an animal. In 350 AD Catholic church turned Lupercalia into Valentine´s Day.
Story of Saint Valentine
There have been several saints who were called Valentine but the most famous legend tells about a priest who lived around the time of Emperor Claudius the second. Emperor strongly believed that married soldier were the worst soldiers because they were always missing their wives so he forbid priests to wed soldiers. Priest named Valentine was rebellious and he secretly performed wedding ceremonies. According to the story Valentine was captivated and many of the soldiers who he had wed secretly brought him gifts and this started the Valentine´s Day gift giving tradition. Valentine was executed in 269 AD. Almost hundred years later when the Catholic church was putting stop on Lupercalia Valentine was canonized, church started to spread his legend and 14th of February became the St. Valentines Day.
Holiday of Hearts
St. Valentine´s Day has long traditions in Middle-Europe and in South-Europe. In England day of St.Valentine has been an official holiday since 1537. The idea of St.Valentine´s day being a holiday that is purely connected to romantic love started in the Middle Ages by the Catholic church based on their teachings on monogamy.
First Valentine's Day cards were printed in England in the 19th century. By then the holiday was loosing it´s popularity in Europe until it was taken to the United States by the immigrants. In USA Valentine´s Day became a huge commercial holiday and a gift for the marketing industry. This is when red heart became the official symbol of the Valentine´s Day and red and pink became it´s colors.
Some American Valentine´s Day traditions are Valentine's Day ice skating and different kind of superstitions. According to one belief the first person you will meet in the morning of Valentine's Day is the love of your life. One of the symbols of Valentine's Day is the Roman god Cupid who blindly shoots arrows and makes people falling in love. During the Victorian times the image of Cupid was changed from a handsome young man into an angelic chubby baby.
From Valentine's Day to Friendship Day
Valentine's Day is celebrated in many ways in different countries and cultures. In my home country Finland Valentine's Day is known as Ystävänpäivä the friendship day. Valentine´s Day arrived to Finland in the late 1980´s and in 1987 it became an official holiday. Friendship Day in is also celebrated in Denmark and in Estonia. In Finland Friendship Day is the second biggest holiday after Christmas when people send postcards and messages in social media to each others.
I´v always liked the concept of Friendship Day because it goes beyond the idea of romantic love and covers love in all of it´s beauty. It is the time to remember all your friends and loved ones. Some of the friendship day traditions in Finland is to give cards and little gifts to your friends. You can remember your best friends, your partner, your parent, your grandparent or your favorite teacher. Any person who you consider as your friend. Happy Friendship Day!
History of Valentine´s Day Video
Check out my course on Finnish Mythology and folklore )O(
As all Harry Potter fans know J.K.Rowling has magical talent to come up with great character names. Interestingly enough many of the Harry Potter characters are named after gods and goddesses of the ancient world and in many ways these particular characters share the same traits as the deities they were named after.
Hermes God of Thieves and Alchemy
Hermione is the brightest student of all Hogwarts. According to J.K.Rowling Hermione was named after a character in Shakespeare´s play Winter´s tale. However name Hermione is derived from Greek god Hermes. Hermes was the second youngest Olympian god. He was the son of Zeus and a nymph called Maia. He was the patron god of herdsmen, thieves, market place, merchants, travelers, boundaries, public speakers, heralds and graves. Hermes could travel between worlds; both mortal and divine. He was a god who wore golden sandals and he had a staff called Caduceus that had two snakes entwined into it. His name Hermes means putting things together which also made him god of logic and analytical thinking. During the classical era of ancient Greece Hermes became the patron god of magic, magicians and alchemy. This begins to sound more like our Hermione. She is no stranger for stealing either. Do you remember how in her second year at Hogwarts Hermione stole ingredients from Snape´s cabin to make the Polyjuice potion?
Minerva Goddess of Wisdom
Minerva McGonagall is the professor of transfiguration and the Head of Gryffindor house, Deputy Headmistress and later on became the Headmistress of Hogwarts. She is also a registered animagus and can transform herself into a cat. According to Harry Potter Wikia Minerva was named after her grandmother. A talented witch also named Minerva.
In the Roman mythology Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, poetry, medicine, arts, trades, handcrafts and strategic warfare. Origins of Minerva lie in Greek myths and stories about Athena, Greek goddess of wisdom, warfare and shape sifting. Athena was the protector goddess of Athens, city that was named after her. Birth myth of Minerva also follows the birth myth of Athena. According to the myth her mother was titaness Metis, goddess of thinking and knowledge and her father was Jupiter/ (Roman) Zeus (in his Greek form) the ruler god of the skies. Minerva burst from Jupiter´s head fully armored. Minerva´s symbol was the owl, animal which represented hidden knowledge, learning and wisdom. Like all deities in Greko-Roman myths Minerva also had ability to change her form and most often she took the shape of an owl. She was also known as Minerve Medica, goddess of medicine and physicians.
In the battle of Hogwarts Minerva McGonagall was one of our heroes fearlessly leading troupes into the battle to fight against Voldemort. She is also one of the most famous hatstallers. Sorting hat spent good five and a half minute pondering whether Minerva ought to go to Ravenclaw or Gryffindor. She is both smart and brave.
Luna Goddess of the Moon and Imagination
Luna is one of my favorite characters in Harry Potter books. Her name comes from Roman goddess Luna who was the goddess of the moon and her Greek counterpart was Selene. Luna means moon in Latin and is derived from the Latin word "lucere"meaning shine. Luna was a minor goddess who was seen as in three aspect as part of triple goddess (diva triformis) consisting Luna, Hekate goddess of witchcraft and Proserpina goddess of fertility. Luna was seen as the goddess of moon, dreams, sacred feminine and imagination. Other well-known goddesses connected to the moon in Roman myths were Juno, goddess of warfare and sacred unions and Diana, goddess of hunt. In Roman mythology Luna is the female compliment of the sun (Sol). She was believed to be a beautiful young woman who would ride across the night sky in a chariot pulled by shining horses or ox´s which were sacred animals to her. In Harry Potter books Luna is eccentric young woman who is not afraid to be herself. Sometimes other people made fun of her and called her Loony Lovegood. Words meaning mad like loony and lunatic are also derived from the word Luna. Back in the days lunatic was a specific word to describe someone who was especially effected by the full moon making them bit insane. Maybe Luna is a bit loony but she has heart of gold. She is very loyal to her friends and there is bright aura around her. One of the symbols of the moon goddess is the hare. I´m sure you can all remember that in Harry Potter book´s Luna´s patronus is also a hare.
Pomona goddess of fruit trees, gardens and orchards
Professor Sprout who´s full name is Pomona Sprout is motherly leader of the Hufflepuff House. She is not afraid to get her hands dirty and loves everything that grows. Professor Sprout was named after a goddess who was not too different from her. Pomona was a Roman goddess of fruit trees, gardens, orchards, fertility and abundance. In Greek myths she is often associated with Demeter, goddess of grain and harvest. In ancient port of Rome there was a sanctuary dedicated to Pomona called Pomonal. Pomona was a wood nymph and her name originates from a Latin word for an orchard fruit. According to the legend she was courted by two woodland gods Silvanus and Picus but in the end she married Vertumnus, Roman god of seasonal change. In ancient Rome a festival was hold to honor Pomona and Vertumnus on August 13th. Pomona was often depicted holding a bowl of fruits or the cornucopia, eternal symbol of abundance in her hands.
Parvati Goddess of Universal Energy
Parvati and Padma Patil are twin sisters and students at Hogwarts School of witchcraft and wizardry. Parvati is in the Gryffindor house while her sister Padma is in Ravenclaw. In Hindu mythology Parvati was the feminine form of shakti, the universal life force, pure divine energy. She was married to Shiva god of war and lord of dance. Parvati was daughter of the mountain king Himavan (also known as Parvat) and queen Mena. King Himavan was the personification of the mount Himalaya therefore name Parvati implies she of the mountain. Parvati was also told to be the sister of the god Vishnu and the river goddess Ganga (who´s after the river Ganges is named). Parvati was mother of Ganesha, the half-human, half-elephant god of luck and success. She represents creativity, love, devotion, determination, fertility of the earth and spiritual connection. Padma on the other hand means lotus which is the symbol of the goddess in Hindu legends.
Artist and Illustrator. Mythology and Folklore enthusiastic. Keen traveler. Comes from Finland. Likes cats, tea, and such.