Well it’s V-Day again! This year, take a moment out from your annual anti-stalker preparations to recall the ancient werewolf roots of Valentine’s Day – but no more than a moment! That would be highly inadvisable. It’s called Lupercalia and it may not be romantic but it’s 99.99% true, like everything else on this site.
Centuries before Emperor Claudius condemned poor St. Valentine to a terrible teddy bear and chocolate death for the then-crime of marrying heterosexual couples, there were twin boys named Romulus and Remus in Rome. Like many twins, Romulus and Remus created quite a bit of chaos by their birth. Even more so because these twins were the children of demi-gods. Their dad was Mars, the god of war and their mom a forest diety named Rhea Silva.
As a result, these powerful babies Romulus and Remus scared the emperor. He ordered them abandoned in the woods and left to die in the middle of winter. He also locked their mom Rhea Silva in a convent.
But the emperor didn’t know that Rhea Silva, whose name means “forest spirit” could still communicate with the animals in the forest. She made a deal with a powerful she-wolf named Lupa that if Lupa would adopt her sons and give them milk to save their lives, that she would share them with Lupa on every full moon.
Lupa agreed to the deal and found Romulus and Remus deep in the woods, roughly on this day in February. She fed them her own milk and this caused the physiological changes that would save their lives and turn them into werewolves on the full moon. So that when they became adults, on every full moon the twins would turn into werewolves and always return to her in the forest.
So how does this lead to Valentine’s Day?
Well when Romulus and Remus grew up they used their powers to found the city of Rome and every year in February, Rome held a celebration in honor of their wolf mom, Lupa. Hence the Roman statue of Lupa feeding her wolf-milk to Romulus and Remus above. This celebration was called “Lupercalia,” after Lupa herself.
On Lupercalia the citizens of Rome would party by making chocolate wolf-milk and stuffed wolf toys and trying to get a date. Except for the werewolves of course, who would transform even if it wasn’t a full moon and retreat deep into the forest together for their own secret Lupercalia celebration, about which little is known.
It may not the most romantic story but it’s 99.98% true.
(Minus the one little missing part where Romulus kills his own brother Remus in a fit of were-rage over where to put the city of Rome. Were-rage. Big problem for the lupine kind. Read more about were-rage here on the werewolves page.)