noun \ˌlü-pər-ˈkā-lē-ə, -ˈkāl-yə\

Definition of LUPERCALIA

:  an ancient Roman festival celebrated February 15 to ensure fertility for the people, fields, and flocks
Lu·per·ca·lian \-ˈkā-lē-ən, -ˈkāl-yən\ adjective


Latin, plural, from Lupercus, god of flocks
First Known Use: circa 1580


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Ancient Roman festival held each February 15. Its origins are uncertain, but the likely derivation of its name from lupus (Latin: “wolf”) may signal a connection with a primitive deity who protected herds from wolves or with the legendary she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus. Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice of goats and a dog; two of its priests (Luperci) were then led to the altar and their foreheads were anointed with blood. After all had feasted, the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the sacrificed animals and ran around the Palatine hill, striking at any woman who came near them; a blow from the thong was supposed to bestow fertility.


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