Today is Lupercalia, the Roman wolf fest which may be the root of contemporary Valentine’s Day. It’s worth bringing back to this old town I live in, a place the Romans called Eboracum. I try to picture those ancestors running through the streets naked, striking each other with thongs made from the hides of fresh sacrifices, hopping round the “Chocolate Story” museum and Betty’s Tea Room. It’s hard.
The Saxons called the month just gone the Wolf Month– as the grain stores emptied and the winter stocks thinned out, the hungry wolves came round to see just how well we’d been living, or so the myriad fairy tales begin. So here’s February, what the Anglo-Saxons called the Mud-Month. Slog through it to spring while those Roman wolves are still snuffing about in the crack in the door of our collective subconscious, or so one hopes. Whither Lupercalia? “We keep the wolves out by living well…” writes Angela Carter in The Bloody Chamber.
Are we living well? There’s a blizzard blowing outside as I type this, coating everything white. No one is naked. No one is even outside. Snow prompts an apocalyptic freak-out here in this country that is totally in denial about winter, but that’s a subject for another post. And you know, February from the Duke of Berry’s hours is looking mighty familiar, what with the white on white. It’s kind of romantic. Look closely. (Clicking on the image expands it to full size). The braes (medieval underwear) hang on the wall, and the couple warm their best bits by the fire.
Whether you are donning your flayed goat hide or going commando by the fire, I wish you a blessed Mud-Month. And if you share my love of hearts, I have those aplenty in my Etsy shop.