For those who don’t know, the Lupercalia was an ancient Roman festival of fertility and purification. It was, itself, something of a hybrid holiday, mixing together early-spring fertility rites, the Februa cleansing-of-houses-and-souls, and the founding tale of Rome, honoring the she-wolf who, according to legend, suckled and sheltered the abandoned infants Romulus and Remus. And I think we should bring it back.
Okay, I recognize (somewhat begrudgingly) that we no longer live in a society where we can celebrate a festival with handsome young men running naked through the streets flailing strips of recently-sacrificed goat flesh to bring good luck and fertility to the crowds. Yes. That is how the Romans celebrated it. Famously, Mark Antony ran the race in 44 BCE, and that was the day he perhaps-jokingly, perhaps-seriously, perhaps-as-a-test-balloon offered Caesar a crown three times, which he then thrice denied. The idea behind the goat-flesh thing was that if the priests of Lupercal, the guys doing the running, hit you with the strips of flesh, it would bring good luck — and particularly for women, it would help you conceive a child, so young wives and those who feared they were barren jostled for position on the streets to receive this blessing. Yeah. It was a weird holiday in a lot of ways.
But I still think we can bring back the Lupercalia.
As Werewolf Day.
No, I’m dead serious about this. I feel like this is a holiday we need. It could celebrate and honor things that need celebrating and honoring in modern life, but which so many holidays grossly overlook. And — it would be a holiday largely free of the commercialism that so infects most other holidays. We could do far worse than resurrecting a holiday based on the spirit of the wolf.
On Werewolf Day, celebrate yourself and the transformations you have made in life. Remember the pup you once were and think kindly even of her mistakes. Imagine the shaggy elder you will someday be and strive to earn her wisdom. Think of the strength and vigor of your prime years and rededicate yourself to making the most of them. Howl out your triumphs for the universe to hear and acknowledge.
On Werewolf Day, look up at the moon and stars and remember to have wonder at the beauty and scale of the universe we live in. Be awed and humbled, for you are a part of something immense, an eternal story that stretches out beyond you in all directions; be proud and assertive, for you are here, and alive, and your place in the grand scheme is critical.
On Werewolf Day, love your pack. Tell the friends, family, and mates in your life how important they are. Romp with them. Share your knowledge and experience, and learn from those who share theirs.
On Werewolf Day, feed yourself both physically and spiritually. Consume a hearty quantity of highly nourishing protein. I suggest a massive cheeseburger or a nice filet for the carnivorous among us, and an enormous cheese omelette for the vegetarians. Or a lot of nuts. Chocolate-covered, for preference. But feed your soul, too. Read a favorite book. Sing a favorite song. Wear the clothes that make you feel special.
On Werewolf Day, celebrate the wildness in you, what is yet untamed. Shake off the bonds of domestication and remember that something gorgeous and natural is inside you. Honor that indomitable spirit.