Valentine’s Day can be traced back to pagan times in ancient Rome. On February 14th they had a holiday to honor Juno, the mythical goddess of women and marriage. The following day was the Fertility Festival called the Feast of Lupercalia. This feast was to protect humans from wolves and to honor of the Roman Gods of Agriculture. During the feast, the Lupercali (Roman priests) would gather in a scared cave where they believed Romulus and Remus were cared for by a she-wolf, a lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat for fertility and a dog for purification. Boys would use the goats hide dipped in the sacrificial blood and slap the women with the hide. They believed this would make the women more fertile. During the feast, the unwed women would place their name in a big urn and the unwed men would pick from the urn. The man would be paired to the woman he picked for the rest of the year. Usually, the two would fall in love and marry.
When Christianity spread through Rome, the practice of finding a mate this way was outlawed. Around 498 AD, Pope Gelasius declared February 14th St. Valentine’s Day.