Valentine’s Day: A day for beating women with bloody animal skins?

This Tuesday, which much of the world will call Valentine’s Day, I will strive to do the most romantic thing I can do for my wife: Provide her with a God-fearing husband who does not observe Valentine’s Day. 🙂

The origins of Valentine’s Day are very clearly pagan and pre-Christian. Research into the details of where it came from can take you all sorts of places (some very yucky places, frankly), but standing out among them is Lupercalia, a pagan fertility ritual celebrated in February that involved, among other things, animal sacrifices (goats and dogs, apparently) and whipping women with strips made from the animals’ bloody flesh. Yes, I wish I was kidding.

If you want to just dip your toes a wee bit into the origins of Valentine’s Day, the History channel website is making it easy, with an interactive graphic (I’m not sure why a graphic that doesn’t do anything but sit there is called “interactive,” but there you go) and a video that shows a painting (apparently by Jon Foster) of a fellow looking delightfully popish presiding over a sacrifice-the-critter-and-hit-the-ladies-with-carcass-straps ceremony. (Full disclosure: The History channel video also shows old “classic” paintings with naked people. What is it with “classic” artists and naked people?)

So, no pagan, hit-your-woman-with-bloody-animal-parts, Lupercalia-warmed-over, Jeremiah 10:2 (et al.)-violating Valentine’s Day for me, thanks!

As for my Beautiful Wife (who feels the same way I do about February 14): Good thing for her that I’m a super-romantic fellow 24/7 & 365, am I right? And so modest, to boot! 🙂

15 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day: A day for beating women with bloody animal skins?

  1. wakemeupwhenthekillingstarts

    I do hope you do not have a Christmas tree up on the 25th of December and don’t hand out eggs during that time you call Easter. While you’re doing your ‘no Pagan ritual for me’ bit, try to remember that many of the traditions you bible worshippers hold dear come from Pagan roots.

  2. Thanks for commenting, wakemeupwhenthekillingstarts (I’ll call you WMUWTKS for short). In brief: No, I don’t observe Christmas, neither do I keep Easter. Yes, they do come from pagan roots and are unbiblical. Yes, those of my particular faith are quite consistent in our “no Pagan ritual for me” bit, thanks very much.

  3. JDC

    Thanks for an honest look at the origins of Valentines Day. A few years ago, while at the Louver in Paris, my grandson, then about 12, ran ahead into the next gallery of sculptures. He came rushing back and said, ” No need to go in there, just more naked people!”

  4. John Mogler

    Gregor’ys calendar has 366 days this ‘year’. Where did you find the term pre-christian? Please read Exodus 20, 3rd commandment. Then John 1:1. Really.

  5. Thanks for writing in, Mr. Mogler. Your comment about Gregory’s calendar seems an odd non-sequiter, and I’m sorry if I’m missing something there. [EDIT: Just got it–my 24/7/365 reference. Thanks!] But as for the name “Christian” it means a follower of Christ, which I am. Have read Exodus 20:7, thanks, and John 1:1, thanks again. I’ve also read Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, and, most importantly, 1 Peter 4:16. If the Apostle Peter was comfortable with its use, I’m not sure why you would be. Yes, I’m familiar with the arguments some have given to say that Peter disapproved of the term, but those arguments have always come up wanting. So, I’m afraid that Scriptural example trumps your condescending “Really.” 🙂 If you want to claim that the term should not be used and have biblical support for doing so, you’ll need to make your point much better than that.

    And thanks for the story, Mr. JDC! Reminds me of a cartoon I saw once where one of the characters was complaining to Michaelangelo for painting all the pictures of naked people on the ceiling of the Cistine Chapel, saying, “This is a church, you know!”

  6. Michael O'Byrne

    Not having been blessed with a spouse . . . . . yet, but I delight in hearing people declare their love for their spouse to the world, but especially when that love is founded in the love of God and His way by being a truly Christian husband or wife. Last Sabbath we had it announced by Mr. Rod King that our Elder and one of our Sisters in Christ are to be married later in the year. I had some obstacles before me in attending the service, but thanks to the aforementioned Elder I was able to be there. As a result we heard wonderful messages through a sermonette by one of the brethren and a sermon from Mr. King. The day was crowned with the further ” good news ” of the impending marriage of our Elder and his future spouse and it made my day complete.

  7. There’s nothing wrong with every guy thinking that his wife is the best woman in the world. That’s one dispute God might not disapprove of. Somehow I don’t think it’s relegated to only one day of the year, however, pagan or otherwise. Surprising her with a pretty bouquet of hand picked Spring flowers – for no reason – is more fun, anyway.

  8. Or how about inviting your wife to a “first date” in the dog days of Summer? It’s been hot; everything has fallen into a routine; so you tell her to dress her best, because you’re taking her to the finest restaurant. And treat it like a first date. Ask her first-date questions. “So whad’ya do?” Make goofy fun out it.

    Or how about pulling her out the house during a heavy downpour, and dancing with her in the rain? Get drenched to the bone, laugh and have fun. I mean, there’s all kinds of things a guy can do. It doesn’t have to be only day of the year.

    And I can’t believe that I’m talking about this stuff now, because I don’t believe in Valentines Day. I’ll have to scratch my head over this one.

  9. John Mogler

    Mr. Smith,
    I have no problem with the term “Christian” when used properly. I asked where ‘you’ found the term ‘pre-christian.. Since Christ was in the garden of Eden, and Adam followed him. The babylonian festival days came later. So please tell me where you found this term. Not rhetorical. Remember the 3rd commandment.

  10. Thanks, again, for writing, Mr. Mogler. I’m glad that you don’t have a problem with a biblical word (and though it was, indeed, Christ in the garden, you might want to read Adam’s story again).

    It isn’t a matter of “finding” the term (and I’m not sure why it would be) as much as it is a matter of using it. The prefix “pre-” here indicates “before,” and the word “Christian” refers to things and people belonging to Christ from the time He began building His Church almost 2000 years ago (but, of course, you know these things). Unlike your implication about the garden, the Bible says that the Eternal Being, the Word, who became Jesus Christ was not always “Christ” but became so at a certain time (e.g., Acts 2:36).

    Consequently, using the word is no more a violation of the 3rd commandment than would be the phrases “not Christian” or “true Christian” (which, though not “found” anywhere, are quite acceptible) or the word “ungodly” (used frequently in the KJV & NKJV). Like those, the word means exactly what it says and does not demean the name of Christ in the least.

    You may disagree, of course, and you’re certainly free to do so.

    So, thanks for encouraging me to remember the 3rd commandment — but more than simply “remembering” it I hope we all learn to accurately understand it (2 Tim. 2:15) and to use and apply it lawfully (1 Tim. 1:8).

  11. John Wheeler (Johanan Rakkav)

    Mr. Smith: While the appropriate printed edition of the Encyc. Brit. is still on library shelves, I need to find and photocopy something I found years ago and photocopied but seem to have buried beyond retrieval in my stacks. It was the article on “Semantics”. In passing the article mentioned and described what Robert Heinlein called the Three Laws of Semantics (without naming the “laws” one by one in his novel alluding to them, while the EB didn’t call them the “Three Laws”). The only one I remember clearly enough to quote precisely is the Third, which many hold to trump the other two: words mean what people want them to mean. And certainly all Three Laws relate to how we are to understand and apply the Third Commandment.

    I notice that a significant fraction of people in and out of the Church of God stumble over these Laws, and in particular the last one. One of the Laws, I believe the second, is that words must be understood in their usage-in-context. You found a good verse: the One who met with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden only became Jesus Christ (properly speaking) when he was born as a human being. Any other use of his name, outside that time frame and afterward, is as it were back-projection for one or another purpose (e.g., “and the Rock was Christ”, meaning – by the Third Law if no other – the great Personage who later became known as Jesus Christ).

    Just some thoughts as I’m passing by… 😀

  12. Karel Thygessen

    Pagans and the Church are ill nowadays trying to hide from the World what there once used to be: in what they could only believe — one day, but in what would they believe in case there are there could indeed be different from what they had believed when not already there. Bible is still good compared to what might come and it is here already. We know what happens to women eggs when twice: it is forever…

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