Festivals, Roman Lore

What is Lupercalia: An Ancient Roman Purification


By Morningbird

Lupercalia was an ancient Roman purification and fertility festival celebrated on February 13th- 15th.

Lupercalia, also known as dies Februatus or Februa relating more specifically to the purification aspect of the festival, as februare is believed to have emerged from the Etruscan word for purging or purification (Per Ovid’s Fasti). This festival is believed to have much more ancient origins, perhaps stemming from a pre-Roman Sabine festival.

The name Lupercalia itself is related to the Lupercal cave at the Western foot of Palatine Hill in Rome where a wolf is said to have suckled Rome’s mythical founders Remus and Romulus. The cave grotto is said to have also contained a shrine to Faunus.

The Luperci (brothers of the wolf) priests performed their sacred duties there. One of these included the sacrifice of goats and dogs to kick off the festival.

During the height of the Lupercalia festivities, they walked through the streets striking festival-goers with strips skin from the sacrifices to purify them and ensure their fertility.

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Written by Morningbird & Witchipedia Team

I have been practicing magick alone and with family and friends for over 30 years. As a founder and lead writer on Witchipedia, I’ve been publishing articles since 2006.

It is our mission to provide the most accurate Pagan, occult and magical information.

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