/looh'peuhr kay"lee euh, -kayl"yeuh/, n., pl. Lupercalia, Lupercalias.
a festival held in ancient Rome on the 15th of February to promote fertility and ward off disasters.

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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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▪ ancient Roman festival
      ancient Roman festival that was conducted annually on February 15 under the superintendence of a corporation of priests called Luperci. The origins of the festival are obscure, although the likely derivation of its name from lupus (Latin: “wolf”) has variously suggested connection with a primitive deity who protected herds from wolves and with the legendary she-wolf who nursed Romulus and Remus. As a fertility rite, the festival is also associated with the god Faunus (q.v.).

      Each Lupercalia began with the sacrifice by the Luperci of goats and a dog, after which two of the Luperci were led to the altar, their foreheads were touched with a bloody knife, and the blood was wiped off with wool dipped in milk; the ritual required that the two young men laugh. The sacrificial feast followed, after which the Luperci cut thongs from the skins of the victims and ran in two bands around the Palatine hill, striking with the thongs at any woman who came near them. A blow from the thong was supposed to render a woman fertile. In AD 494 the Christian church under Pope Gelasius I appropriated the form of the rite as the Feast of the Purification.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lupercalia — Roman festival held Feb. 15, in honor of Lupercus, god (identified with Lycean Pan) who had a grotto at the foot of the Palatine Hill, from L. Lupercalia (pl.), from Lupercalis pertaining to Lupercus, whose name derives from lupus wolf (see WOLF… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Lupercalia — [lo͞o′pərkal΄lo͞o΄pər kā′lē ə] n. pl. Lupercalias or Lupercalia [L < Lupercalis, of Lupercus < Lupercus < lupus, a wolf: orig. meaning obscure] [occas. with pl. v.] an ancient Roman festival with fertility rites, held Feb. 15 in honor of …   English World dictionary

  • Lupercalia — Lu per*ca li*a, n. pl. [L. luperealis, fr. Lupercus the Lycean Pan, so called fr. lupus a wolf, because he kept off the wolves.] (Rom. Antiq.) A feast of the Romans in honor of Lupercus, or Pan. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Lupercalĭa — (Lykäa), römisches Fest, am 15. Februar zu Ehren des Lupercus, welcher als Beschützer der Heerden gegen die Wölfe verehrt u. mit Faunus u. dem Lykäischen Pan identificirt wurde, zur Sühnung der Heerden u. Hirten gefeiert. Beim Lupercal, dem… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Lupercalia — For the saint by the name Lupercus , see Marcellus of Tangier. Infobox Holiday holiday name = Lupercalia type = Pagan longtype = Pagan, Historical caption = observedby = Roman, Pre Roman Civilizations date = February 13 ndash; February 15… …   Wikipedia

  • Lupercalia — noun Etymology: Latin, plural, from Lupercus, god of flocks Date: circa 1580 an ancient Roman festival celebrated February 15 to ensure fertility for the people, fields, and flocks • Lupercalian adjective …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Lupercalia — Die Lupercalien (auch Luperkalien) waren das Hauptfest des italischen Herdengottes Faunus, der den Beinamen Lupercus (lateinisch: „Wolfsabwehrer“) führte und am Palatin in Rom eine heilige Grotte (Lupercal) hatte, wo sein mit einem Ziegenfell… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Lupercalia — Lupercales Dans la Rome antique, les Lupercales sont des fêtes annuelles célébrées à Rome par les luperques du 13 au 15 février, près d une grotte nommée le Lupercal (située au pied du mont Palatin et probablement découverte en novembre 2007), en …   Wikipédia en Français

  • LUPERCALIA —    a Roman festival held on Feb. 15 in honour of Lupercus, regarded as the god of fertility, in the celebration of which dogs and goats were sacrificed and their skins cut up into thongs, with which the priests ran through the city striking every …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Lupercalia — [ˌlu:pə keɪlɪə] (also Lupercal lu:pəkal) noun [usu. treated as sing.] an ancient Roman festival of purification and fertility, held annually on 15 February. Origin L., neut. plural of lupercalis relating to Lupercus , Roman equivalent of the… …   English new terms dictionary

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