Pagan festivals? There are Christians who attribute holidays to pagan rituals and denounce them as evil. But holidays, like people, can have historical significance based on however you view them. What is your perception? Often in marriage a person’s ‘perception’ becomes so atrophied that they no longer see the good or positive, such is the understanding of various holidays – such as Valentines Day.
There are some Christians who denounce Valentines Day as a pagan ritual rooted in lascivious and evil ideals and actions. But there is another Valentines Day in which it is the embracing of love, faith and Christian martyrdom. They both occur in February:
Lupercalia is the pagan version which purportedly was rooted in Roman mythology. It is ‘believed’ that its name was derived from lupus meaning wolf, and thus an entire story was created in which fertility rites, sacrificial rites and conception rites were observed. Much of the perceptions of Lupercalia are vague and hypothesized. There is some thought that Lupercalia was brought to Italy before the Trojan War in 1194 BC. But there is really no absolute proof, simply conjecture.
Februus was an ancient god in Roman mythology whose name signified ‘purification’ which included such springtime rituals as washing. This would be aligned with modern day thought regarding ‘spring cleaning’. Not exactly a pagan endeavor so much as a day to – clean…
The pagan concept of Lupercalia is based on ‘legend’. A Legend by definition is a story that has no authentication. It is a fabrication. And because this Legend occurs ‘supposedly’ on February 15th, Valentines Day is hijacked and within Christian fear of paganism, Valentines Day looses its other roots – love.
Saint Valentine of Rome, born in 226 AD, died on February 14th, 269 while imprisoned, tortured and martyred in the name of Christianity. Some vitae ascribed to him state that he was beheaded while trying to proselytize then Emperor, Claudius Gothicus. Other vitae, much later describe him as a Priest who secretly married couples so that the husbands would not have to go to war. It is thought that while in prison he healed the jailer’s daughter of blindness and left her a note signed, “Your Valentine”.
While these too are legends adopted by the Roman Catholic Church and as a legend not authenticated, the concept is rooted in faith, Christian martyrdom, marriage and love.
Is it wrong to celebrate a Christian legend rooted in love, charity and faith?
Halloween has similar denunciation in Christian circles despite evidence that it is rooted in the Western Christian celebration of All Saints Eve, a dedication of remembrance of martyrs, saints and the faithful who have died. Dating to the 4th century AD Halloween means “Holy Evening” and can be traced to Pope Gregory III’s founding of an oratory in St. Peters. While the church changed the original All Saints Day celebration from April to three days ending November 1, the posture remains the same.
Although historical belief linked Halloween to pagan rituals, it is more likely to be the evolution of a Celtic festival “Samhain”. Samhain was a ritual that recognized the end of the harvest season, the onset of winter which represented death, and the feasts and games enjoyed during this time of transition. Bonfires were lit to keep the devil away.
Sometime around 1745, All Saints Day, and Samhain merged to form and preform the rituals that are now observed within Halloween. It was the Christian church that ultimately hijacked Samhain in an attempt to quash the pagan rite and transform it into a Christian celebration of All Saints. Still, Samhain’s roots were about the end of a harvest and the celebration of bountiful fruits. There was no evil – unless you choose to root it in evil…
We have a choice. We can choose to perceive these days as having historically positive and loving reference, or we can choose to see them as belonging to ‘evil’. And thus, in our minds it becomes what we perceive.
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!