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 februareĀ 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. There, the Luperci (brothers of the wolf) priests performed their sacred duties. 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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