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Your Valentine's Day IQ: Answer 6

Why is Valentine’s Day celebrated on February 14th?

If you chose D because you didn't know this answer, you were right!

Truth be told, nobody is quite sure why Valentine’s Day falls on February 14th.  Some say it commemorates either the execution or canonization of St. Valentine, but there is no formal record or documentation to support either claim. A better theory is that the Christian Church concocted Valentine’s Day as a direct rebuff to the promiscuous Roman holiday known as Lupercalia, which was celebrated annually on February 15th.  During this day, Rome would honor the god Lupercus with a lottery in which young men would draw the names of teenage girls from a box. The girl “selected” by each young man would be his “companion” during the remaining year. As you might guess, the Christian Church wasn’t too keen on this practice, and in 496 A.D., Pope Gelasius ordered a slight change to the lottery.

The Pope’s modification: the box would contain the names of saints, not teenage girls. Both men and women could draw from the box, and the object was to emulate the ways of the saint they drew for one full year. Needless to say, the new lottery wasn’t very popular with young men, and it died a swift death. Fearing the Romans would revert to the old lottery, the Pope decided the pagan god Lupercus needed to be replaced by a suitable patron saint of love and commitment. The martyred St. Valentine was chosen for the role, and the Pope, according to folklore, decided to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on February 14th—one day before Lupercalia. It was the Pope’s hope that Valentine’s Day would eclipse Lupercalia in popularity and transform mid-February celebrations from sinful to saintly. He got his wish as very few people still send “Happy Lupercalia” cards.

 

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