Symbol of sex, fertility.
The Lupercalia festival was held in February by the ancient Romans. It is based on the story of Rome’s founders, Romulus and Remus. Because of their mother’s infidelity, their father ordered their execution as newborns. They were rescued by a servant who placed them in a basket and sailed it down the Tiber river. The basket was carried by the river god until it became entangled in a fig tree. The babies were taken in by a she-wolf, who suckled them. They were later discovered and adopted by a shepherd. The cave was discovered by the lads as they grew older, and they named it Lupercal. Later, Rome was formed in this den. The twins named the cave Lupercal for Lupercus, the fertility god, and the she-wolf who raised them.
The event began with Luperci priests sacrificing two male goats and a dog. The Luperci would then rub the knife’s blood onto their foreheads and giggle as they wiped it away with a piece of mildly moistened wool. The priests would cut the goats’ flesh into strips and run nude through the streets flogging women with the skin after the sacrifice. A woman became fertile after being whipped. Some women would gladly strip and get whipped. For a year, men and women would pull names from a jar and be sexual partners with whoever’s name they drew.
Because of the festival’s timing and sexual character, it is regarded to be the forerunner to Valentine’s Day.