From Romulus & Remus to St. Valentine’s Day

Constantinople had its own distinctive holidays, including some with pre-Christian overtones that lingered well into the Middle Ages. Each new year began with Calends on january 1-4, when residents hung laurel wreaths on doors, held costumed parades, and exchanged gifts. The ancient feast of Bota on january 3 originally involved public prayers and sacrifices with footraces still being run in the hippodrome in the tenth entury.


Rome’s legendary founding on february 15 was observed by the Lupercalia, a love and fertility festival mentioned as late as the sixth century. Some English eighteenth-century antiquarians noting the obscurity of Saint Valentine’s identity, suggested that Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the pagan holiday of Lupercalia which commemorated the founding of Rome by Romulus and Remus (Lupercalia refers to the she-wolf that, according to legend, suckled the twins when they were abandoned).


Romulus & Remus

Note:There was a Roman Lupercalia in the Hippodrome
in Constantinople which seems to have survived to the time of the Fourth
Crusade … The Capitoline Lupercalia seems to have been outside the Lateran
Palace in Rome before then


Circle of Adam Elsheimer (1578-1610), Lupercalia Festival


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