According to the French site www.rdaq.qc.ca, St. Valentine’s Day may be another example of a pagan holiday which was ‘purified’ by the Roman Catholic church. In ancient Rome, the Lupercales was held in honor of Lupercus, the herding god. It was celebrated on February 14th. During the festivities a goat was sacrificed. ‘Wolf-priests’ ran through the villages naked, hitting any woman that crossed their path with leather strips coming from the sacrificed goat. Women who were pregnant would make sure to cross their path in order to lessen the pain of childbirth and other women hoped to become more fertile after having been tapped with the ‘goat whip’.
The Roman Catholic version suggests that St. Valentine, a bishop in Italy provided secret marriages to young lovers who could not marry in public.
Another version suggests that the tradition of Valentine’s Day evolved from the Normans. Here, names of the women of the region (a valentinage) were put into a huge urn where the names were picked out by suitors.The woman would become the chooser’s companion for the coming year. This tradition was supposedly carried over to England during the invasions by William the Conqueror. The St. Valentine celebration didn’t return in France until the 19th century.