a purification and fertility rite involving the sacrifice of goats and a dog. Once the sacrificed goats were dis-membered, the Luperci ran amok, lashing the participants with strips of flesh. Apparently wives were especially eager to be lashed by the Luperci with these bloody pieces of flesh, believing it promoted fertility and facilitated childbirth. (The goat-like satyr -- a later Roman conflation with Faunus, analogous to the Greek god Pan -- was to become a conventional symbol of carnal appetite.) The Lupercalia also consisted of great revelry and drinking, allowing one to infer that the birth rate in Rome significantly rose about nine months after the end of the festival, around the month of November.
No wonder, then, that the Lupercalia survived the onset of Christianity, which required a different form and a different deity, the Roman martyr (as legend has it) Saint Valentinus. (The love for which he died, however, was of a higher form, not that of Eros.) The ancient form of expenditure, ritual sacrifice, is now, of course, replaced by a different kind of expenditure, a financial one, involving the purchase of expensive diamonds and jewels, the value of which is so dear because the financial loss is so tremendous.