Today in Fact – 14 February.

Well of course today is Valentine’s Day the world over. It is a day when people get anonymous cards proclaiming undying love. A sort of stalker’s day supported by florists and card printers? Now although this is the day that we remember St. Valentine, nothing is reliably known about him except his name and that he was martyred on the Via Flamina in Rome. So we are not entirely sure why St. Valentine is regarded as the Patron Saint of lovers but when has the absence of facts got in the way of a good marketing opportunity? There has, over the years been a lot new age talk about the Roman festival of Lupercalia and that St. Valentine’s day was used to replace the worship of some goddess called Juno Februato. This is nonsense as there never was Roman Goddess called Juno Februato. There was the goddess of fertility called Lucina, one of over twelve Roman deities who were invoked for fertility and birthing. So perhaps the neo-pagans hippy types might be referring to this? Anyway what we do know for certain is that Romans loved carnivals and even up to 1667, they would practice the cruel tradition of “running the Jews” on this day. Yup not the running of the bulls as they do in Pamplona but the running of the Jews. Every year, Jews in Rome were, on the 14th February, subjected to the humiliating practice of running a race in the Roman carnivals, scantily clad, amid insults and blows. I think giving a few roses and a card and declarations of undying love beats the ancient Roman customs don’t you?