67 Awesome Halloween Costume Ideas

Since way back in 2007, we've been rounding up our favorite Halloween costumes each year. If you're looking for a costume idea, here are some of the best!

1. Sputnik 2

In 2010, Flickr user vietnamted put together a costume that recreated Sputnik 2, the Soviet spaceship that took the dog Laika into space. Laika is aboard and ready for liftoff, but this Laika survived the mission. See the costume at on Flickr.

2. Yip Yips

500yipyips

Sesame Street's popular aliens, the Yip Yips always appear in twos, so this is a costume that should be worn with a buddy. It take two people to properly fit one according to this Instructable, so you may as well help each other out and into a great costume! You can see the costume in action on Flickr.

3. Optimus Prime

370optimusprime

Instructables member dannyeurena turned cardboard, duct tape, and hot glue into a satisfyingly authentic Optimus Prime costume. According to the accompanying video, it was comfortable enough to dance in!

4. Death Becomes Her

550_deathbecomesher

Evan Booth's costume for Halloween 2006 seemed to be a nondescript "dude in a wig" until you looked at the GAPING HOLE in his midsection! This was accomplished with a camera in the back of the shirt that recorded a background scene and fed it to a travel-size DVD player in the front that displayed the backdrop. In 2008, artist Nicole Magne used the idea for a costume recreating a scene from the movie Death Becomes Her where Goldie Hawn has a hole blown through her body. The creation process is detailed on her blog, and the Instructables version is available if you'd like to try this yourself.

5. Hovering Boba Fett

Linkfilter member Reapre had considered a Rocketeer costume when he hit on the idea of Boba Fett Hovering on a Column of Flame. He used a purchased Boba Fett costume and converted it using a homemade jetpack. The column of flame below hid his legs. Reapre wore platform shoes made from roller blades to make himself several inches taller.

6. Helmet Cat

Flickr user Alida Saxon's brother put this Helmet Cat costume together at the last minute. The helmet is a basketball painted green, and the fur was salvaged from a stuffed toy. Make your favorite internet meme into a Halloween costume and half the folks you encounter will laugh; the other half will scratch their heads and wonder.

7. The Wild Things

A group of five friends dressed as the monsters plus Max from the Maurice Sendak's book Where The Wild Things Are for Halloween 2008. Craftster member sjeanette made papier mache heads of the monsters. The eyes glow in the dark! I can't really tell how one would see while wearing these, but I assume they made a great impression.

8. Mega Man

Kevin made a Mega Man costume for his 3-year-old son a few Halloweens back. What made this so awesome is the Mega Buster with working lights and the authentic helmet fashioned from a bike helmet. See more pictures of the finished product.

9. Bender

Chris Miller made his own Bender costume back in 2005. The eyes moved by a servo controlled by his hands! He was a finalist in a costume contest, but I can't imagine what costume could beat this.

10. Emoticon

The Mask of Emotion hides your face but displays emoticons instead. This helmet was created by the Digital Media Design Dept at Hongik University in Korea. What emoticon is shown is controlled by the wearer's body actions. If you want to make your own, the original website has design specifications and video. It will help if you can read Korean.

11. AT-AT

Katie Mello of LAIKA House in Portland made this AT-AT Costume for her dog Bones. Bones has his own Facebook page, where you can see more pictures: in this costume, other clothing, and as nude as other dogs. In fact, there's a photoset that takes you through the process of building this costume.

12. Death Star

Anditron always dresses up for Halloween, but when she was pregnant, she wanted to incorporate her bump without being too traditional. So she made a Death Star costume. Or rather, her round belly was the Death Star, with small x-wing fighters attached. The rest of her was dressed in black. The Darth Vader helmet was incidental, but worked well. See the result on Flickr.

13. Coppertone Girl

It's a logo everyone knows from as far back as we can remember. The little Coppertone girl's tan line is revealed when her puppy dog pulls on her swim pants. Anna at A. Party Style dressed her adorable daughter in a tan leotard and tights, then reconstructed the backside to reflect the logo, puppy dog and all!

14. Leg Lamp

You can buy a Leg Lamp Halloween costume referencing a prop from the movie A Christmas Story. But redditor mjr214 has a friend who has only one leg, which made her homemade costume so much more fitting -and awesome! You can see the comparison in this photo.

15. Walk the Dinosaur

Alison at Mod Mischief put together a dinosaur illusion costume a few years ago. She even wore stilts! The dino she is riding is an allosaurus made of papier-mâché. See some of the construction pictures in this post. Allison set the bar pretty high for herself after the kidnapped mermaid costume she posted at Instructables from the previous year.

See also: 12 Wordplay Halloween Costumes

16. Flying Genie

Allison also posted an Instructables guide to recreating this Genie on a Flying Carpet costume one of her friends pulled off. The secret to carrying this around all night is a walker on wheels that supports the carpet!

17. Zombie Cat

Cyriak Harris and Sarah Brown made an animation featuring zombie cats called Meow. Dawn Weast and Suzy Gruber were inspired by the video and made a Zombie Cat costume for Weast's 5-year-old daughter Bell. The handmade costume is a dead ringer for one of the cartoon cats that gets turned into a zombie.

18. Shark Attack

Redditor notsohipster has a young cousin who has no legs. He and his little sister trick-or-treated in these clever costumes portraying a shark and her surfboarding victim.

19. Pregnant Zombie

Pregnant Zombie

Amanda Fite was the pregnant zombie that stood out from the crowd at the 2009 Texas Frightmare Zombie Walk. Be assured, it was totally fake. A series of photos give you some idea of the work that went into this costume. See more photos from the 2009 Texas Frightmare Weekend Zombie Walk in Flickr user Ian Aberle's photo set.

20. Port-a-Potty

Sam's brother had a homemade illusion costume that set him in a Port-a-Potty in 2010. Seven-year-old Ben could walk around and "sit" at the same time! The brand name in their area is Honey Bucket, so Ben's door was labeled the same.

21. Chomping Pacman

Matthew Varas built a Pacman costume a few years ago, and this decided to improve upon the idea by building a Pacman with a Chomping Mouth! The project took six weeks, but as you can see, the results are awesome. See the building process at Make.

22. Robot Couple

Instructables member onebrokenneck made a robot couple for a costume competition. These classic Hollywood-style robots are made of aluminum, but according to the build process at Instructables, you can probably use cardboard instead if you don't have a metal shop. The arms and legs are dryer ducts, and various LED gizmos were used to give them an electric personality.

23. Halo

Shawn Thorsson has made a bunch of fantastic costumes. He planned a Halo-themed build for Halloween 2008, but then was deployed to Afghanistan. The project was finally completed the next year. Thorsson fabricated armor from the video game world of Halo, painted them in different colors, and dressed his friends as the characters from the Red vs. Blue series. He posted lots of pictures to show you the process.

24. The Birds

A few years ago, redditor CampingIsInTents posted a picture of her Tippi Hedren costume and got a rousing response. The idea references a popular movie, but you won't see other people wearing it at the same party. She bought the birds, but had to alter the wings to make them just right. The idea has been used by creative costume-makers a couple of times before, even on TV.

25. Krang

Melissa Dunphy made her husband a Krang costume for Halloween 2010. Krang is a cartoon villain who vexes the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The costume required a lot of foam rubber, repurposed electronics, and duct tape. See some still photos at Flickr.

See also: 12 Halloween Ideas From 1884's Hottest Costume Guide

26. Headless Marie Antoinette

A headless Marie Antoinette Halloween costume
A headless Marie Antoinette Halloween costume
connielim_2000, Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

Nicole Magne, who wore a gaping abdominal hole in the Death Becomes Her costume above, made an awesome Marie Antoinette getup a few years ago. Of course, it wouldn't be so awesome if she hadn't been decapitated! You can find a version of the costume (above) at Instructables.

27. 8-bit Gary

Kiel Johnson and Klai Brown created this 8-bit costume out of foam cubes glued onto a cardboard suit for a Toshiba ad in which the "real" Gary was pixelated into a low-res version of himself.

28. LEGO Minifig

Instructables member Kaged Konbat made himself into a LEGO Minifig. The head is made from a tube sold as a form for concrete -strong but still lightweight. The wearer sees through the facial features, which are covered with mesh speaker fabric. Your buddy could accompany you as a LEGO brick.

29. Darth Vader TIE Fighter

I was blown away by this Darth Vader costume spotted at Downtown Disney in Anaheim for Halloween 2007. Someone took a lot of care in constructing a TIE fighter around a wheelchair. See more Halloween costume ideas for children in wheelchairs.

30. Steampunk Iron Man

Steampunk Iron Man won the Marvel costume contest at Comic Con in 2010.

31. Double Rainbow

This costume was inspired by the double rainbow meme from Paul Vasquez's awe at seeing a double rainbow at Yosemite.

32. Mad Max

Karol Bartoszynski has been many of the characters from the Mad Max movies. He became a fan as a teenager, and over the next twenty years turned his enthusiasm for Mad Max into a career as a costume designer, and now organizes Mad Max fan gatherings and re-enactments. Bartoszynski runs the fan site Mad Max Costumes, where you can draw plenty of inspiration.

33. Reverse Trick-or-Treat

A comic describing "reverse trick or treating"
Doctor Popular, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The greatest Halloween costume idea ever was one related in this story from Mefite np312. Apparently no pictures were posted from that Halloween long ago, but Doc Pop took the idea and illustrated it in a comic. You can see the whole thing at Flickr. I hope someone picks this up and runs with it this year.

34. Umbrella Bat

Have you ever looked at a broken umbrella and thought about how it resembles a flailing bat? Lenore at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories made this Umbrella Bat costume out of one umbrella and a hoodie, and posted instructions so you can do the same.

35. Trash Can

This Trash Can costume is also a prank!

When I was a kid there was a guy in our neighborhood that used to jump out of the bushes in a gorilla suit and scare the bejeezus out of us. It was one of my fondest memories of halloween. One year I decided to be that guy.

Unfortunately, I don't have any bushes. An alternative would be to build a trash barrel disguise. I built the disguise below and then sat in it right on the front lawn. Not one single kid realized that It wasn't a trash can and I scared so many of them that I lost count.

See also: 15 Halloween Costumes From the 1970s

36. Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000

You might not recognize the name Caterpillar Power Loader J-5000, but surely you remember the mechanical power suit Sigourney Weaver used to fight the alien queen in Aliens. Ben Hallert built this one for Halloween in 2006. Read his story with links to photos and a video. Hallert previously made an APU costume from The Matrix, and a Mech Warrior costume.

37. Rubik's Cube

A man dressed up in a Rubik's Cube Halloween costume
Fred Benenson, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Flickr user mcredis built a Rubik's Cube costume and posted the process in photographs. He wore it to a costume parade in New York, and heard "Can I solve you?"all night long.

38. Flaming Carrot

The Flaming Carrot is one of the more bizarre comic book characters you'll ever encounter, but it's the look that makes a great costume, rather than the backstory. RoG posted details on how he contructed this one.

39. Tron Guy

Jay Maynard, the Tron Guy, became an internet legend for this costume.

40. Ghostbusters

435ghostbusters.jpg

Honus at Instructables posted instructions for making your own, complete with goggles and weapons. The backpack really makes this; I hope it isn't as heavy as it looks!

41. Big Daddy

Graphic designer Harrison Krix made a costume of the character Big Daddy from the video game Bioshock. This is a work of a serious propmaster. It took seven weeks of sculpting with foam, cardboard, and fiberglass. The finished product, complete with a working drill arm, is a work of art. The post includes many more pictures and a couple of videos of the drill arm in action.

Every year, people amaze me not only with their ideas, but with their talent and dedication at bringing the best costumes to life for Halloween (and other occasions). I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

42. Plastic Army Man

Rebekah Tennis made this costume for her son in 2011. He wanted to be an Army guy, but with a little work and a lot of green paint, he's a soldier straight out of Toy Story! She then posted the process of creating this costume.

43. Cherry Darling

comic-con2007-0919.jpg

Cameron Yee, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The character Cherry Darling from the movie Planet Terror startled folks when they saw that one of her legs was a machine gun. Then it inspired some women to recreate the scene. Now, if you are a beautiful amputee like Lacey Henderson, who gained note as a college cheerleader a few years ago, you can make hay by cosplaying the character at fan events. Henderson has a webpage with instructions for those who aren't amputees on how to recreate the Cherry Darling look, and an annual competition is held for the best machine-gun-leg costume.

44. Jack Skellington

DeviantART member Mnemousyne created this super-tall Jack Skellington costume by making a suit that fits over stilts. The head is built over a helmet, making it more stable, but still a bit hard to see from. Her sister is modeling the costume here; Mnemousyne is in the Sally costume.

45. Weeping Angel

The Weeping Angel is a scary character from the Doctor Who episode "Blink." Livejournal user penwiper337 made this costume of the Weeping Angel to wear at DragonCon. You can follow the process of building it at her blog.

See also: 10 Last-Minute Ideas for Brilliant Halloween Costumes

46. The Ginger Bread Man

The costume was created for a career day fair, but would work for Halloween for any redheads out there.

47. Dorian Gray and his Picture

Heather and David as Dorian Gray and his Picture

Jason Adams, Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The party was literary-themed, so Heather and David came up with a couple's costume right out of the novel The Picture of Dorian Grey. Heather is Dorian, of course, and David is aged up and framed to be …his picture!

48. Mousetrap

Jeff from Ohio told the story of how he made this mousetrap costume for his 3-year-old daughter. Being trapped is a very good excuse for not walking house to house, but a set of wheels got her there anyway! He cut the wood and mounted it to a wagon, welded on the metal hardware, and made the back half of the mouse to work as a cushion for the child's back. Adorable!

49 & 50. Bob Ross and the Orbit Gum Lady

Jake Meek said his Bob Ross attire was purchased in the ladies department at a local thrift store, "which I can only assume is where all men's clothing from the '70s currently resides." He's posing with the Orbit Gum Lady.

51 & 52. The Hamburgler and the Sunmaid Raisins Lady

Here's that same pair, this time as The Hamburgler and the woman on the Sunmaid Raisins box.

53. The DC Metro

Longtime mental_floss contributor Scott Allen won season tickets to the Washington Wizards for this costume!

54. The Firefox Logo

You can even dress up as a browser logo. Firefox is the preferred costume, as it has recognizable features. This Firefox costume was entered in Crunchgear's contest last year.

55. Rock & Roll Witch

Or you could go as me! (Going as a rock & roll witch.)

56. Cheshire Cat

Etsy member scarystitcher made an award-winning costume for her daughter last year and posted it at reddit. She gave us the short version of how it was made. 

The gray and blue fur are two separate materials from Joanns. The gray was much longer and I had to trim all of it down, but it really was the best match for Cheshire. I used a pattern to make the body then altered it to fit her measurements. The blue stripes were cut, placed, pinned and hand-stitched one by one. The mask has a paper mâché base with upholstery foam to widen his face. The eyes are lenses from a pair of sunglasses that I painted w/ just turquoise acrylic paint. The blacks of the eyes are what she sees through. Narrow, but it works well enough. The mouth and nose are thick card-stock also painted and attached with a glue gun and the whiskers are actually twigs I spray painted and glued in under the fur. Took about a month to make but probably would've been less if I didn't have FT work + FT school

57. Darla

Darla is the bratty dentist’s niece in the movie Finding Nemo. The bag is crucial for this costume, otherwise people would assume she’s just an orthodontically challenged kid. But with the bag, it’s perfect! Redditor jarrettbraun posted a picture of redditor neuhani’s clever Halloween costume from last year. 

58. Hannibal Lecter

Andy Pixel made himself into Hannibal Lecter last year. You might think this costume would be difficult with cars, stairs, or the restroom, but he thought about that ahead of time. The hand cart comes apart, so he can ditch it and the extra legs when needed, and still be left with a full costume. He’s not really in a straitjacket; crossed arms just give him the look.

59. The Very Hungry Caterpillar

Alanna George made this Very Hungry Caterpillar costume for just a couple of dollars, and it looks just like the caterpillar in the book! Her then-2-year-old son was delighted to be the character from his favorite story. It's just one of many literary costumes that put kids in their favorite books that you can see in this bigger list

60. The Governor and His Daughter

Fans of the TV show The Walking Dead will recognize the Governor and his undead daughter. Redditor TriforceKing and his sister wore this last Halloween. It helped that he already resembled the actor David Morrissey somewhat. A few people pointed out that the Governor didn’t lose his eye until after his daughter was gone, but who cares? It’s Halloween!

61. Baby Can't Wait

It’s not really a new picture, but this photo was posted just last week showing a baby who can’t wait until he’s born to go trick-or-treating. Redditor Ghost0_ told us how he and his wife used that idea for Halloween a couple of years ago, and what went into making it. You don’t really have to be pregnant to pull this off, but it’s funnier to people who know you if you are.  

62. Man Being Carried Illusion

QuaziLogical made a classic illusion costume a couple of years ago. It cost him about $30 and took about 30 hours of work. This version of the trick looks better than most because the “dummy” is covered by a surgical mask, obscuring its fakery, and QuaziLogical wore a mask, too, to make his face look artificial. See a closer image of the legs he made.

63. Snow Globe

jpotisch via Flickr // CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Flickr user jpotisch made this snow globe costume by hand! The globe is fashioned from clear acetate, and the snow is made from bits of foam hanging by thread. He posted the building process in a Flickr album with some commentary along the way. He said it took about three days to build, but the finished product is a work of art! He also made the banana costume his son is wearing in the background—and it has a photo tutorial, too. 

64. Major Toht

Few will ever forget the climactic scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark, when the Ark is opened up and Gestapo agent Arnold Toht's face is melted off. Comic book artist Cameron Stewart recreated that look for Halloween one year, at the last moment

I made the Major Toht costume in a single afternoon. I woke up that morning thinking I was going to skip Halloween (too much work in my day job as a comic artist) but all of my friends flipped out and pressured me into it. I managed to scrape all of the props together by chance. The melty face is a Captain America movie Red Skull mask with flesh-coloured paint dribbled over it.

Stewart is a master of movie costumes, as you can see in an imgur gallery featuring Toht, Jack Torrance, Patrick Bateman, and other characters.

65. Captain Hook

Here’s one trick-or-treater that takes the classic pirate costume to the next level. This toddler is Captain Hook being eaten by the crocodile from Peter Pan! Instructables member Rachael K explains how she made the costume, which won the Judges Prize for Sewing in the Instructables Halloween Costume Contest last year.

66. Mad Max

Ben Carpenter is a cosplayer who uses a wheelchair. For this year’s Tampa Bay Comic Con, he and his group became the cast of Mad Max: Fury Road. Ben was Max in the scene where he was strapped to the front of a vehicle in order to supply blood to the driver. He used his wheelchair in the upright position for the vehicle, driven by a friend and accompanied by other characters from the movie. They won the award for Best Group Cosplay. Of course they did.

67. Taco Belle

Olivia Mears is a cosplayer and costumer extraordinaire. Her Taco Belle dress decorations are made from card stock, tissue paper, felt, and Taco Bell wrappers. The inspiration came from a previous costume event, when she went for some fast food and contemplated the inadvertent pun.

See More:

11 Additional Pun-tastic Halloween Costumes

A ‘Valentine Phantom’ Has Been Covering Portland, Maine, in Paper Hearts for More Than 40 Years

Corey Templeton, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
Corey Templeton, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Portland, Maine, has a secret admirer. Each Valentine's Day, flyers and banners with pink and red hearts appear in random spots around the city. According to Bangor Daily News, no one has claimed responsibility for the anonymous valentines in 41 years.

The first evidence of the so-called "Valentine Phantom" (who is sometimes referred to as the "Valentine Bandit") surfaced in Portland in 1976. Paper hearts were found plastering the streets on the holiday, with no clues indicating where they came from. The mystery only grew as the hearts returned every year on February 14. There's no pattern dictating where the hearts are placed; they've been found on everything from snowbanks to landmarks. Massive banners have also been hung up in prominent places. In the past decade, giant hearts have emblazoned the Portland Public Library and the ruins of Fort Gorges in Casco Bay.

In 2017, Bangor Daily News landed an exclusive interview with the Valentine Phantom. The mysterious force is actually a crew of Valentine's Day-lovers with connections to various sites and buildings around the city. The perpetrators declined to share their identities, telling the outlet, “Most people are dying to be in the paper. This is the opposite. This is not ego-driven.”

The Phantom has done more than spread good feelings to fellow Portlanders on Valentine's Day; they've sparked a nationwide trend. Similar anonymous heart flyers have appeared in Montpelier, Vermont, and Boulder, Colorado.

[h/t Bangor Daily News]

8 Facts About Lupercalia—the Ancient Festival Full of Whippings and Ritual Sacrifice

Sex, violence, and drunkenness: For centuries, Lupercalia was a major Roman party, surviving well into the rise of Christianity. And pretty soon, someone on your Facebook feed is probably going to claim that this holiday gave rise to our modern Valentine’s Day. So what’s the true story behind the ancient Roman festival and its relation to candy hearts?

1. Lupercalia featured odd sacrifices.

Every year on February 15, the festival began by going to the Lupercal (the legendary site where Romulus and Remus were suckled) and sacrificing a dog and a goat. According to scholar Keith Hopkins, this was unusual in and of itself, because pigs, sheep, and bulls were most commonly used as sacrificial animals. The Oxford Classical Dictionary explains that next, the blood of these animals "was smeared with a knife on the foreheads of two youths (who were obliged to laugh), and wiped with wool dipped in milk."

2. Whippings were also on the menu.

After the blood/wool excitement, Lupercalia's main attraction was the runners. The sacrificed goat’s skin was cut into thongs and (possibly—see below) girdles to be worn by the athletes. Then two sets of runners (a third set would be added later) would make their way through the streets of the city, whipping whomever they met on their way. According to some accounts, women would volunteer to be whipped because it was believed to bring fertility and make the birthing process easier for them. But as the years passed, things changed; by the 3rd century, the voluntary nature of this ritual seemed to be less voluntary. Hopkins claims that a mosaic featuring a Lupercalia celebration features “two men forcibly holding a naked woman face upwards, while a third man, half naked, whips her thighs ... The men’s drunken hilarity is matched by the beaten woman’s obvious pain."

3. People may have been naked—or maybe not.

One long-standing debate about Lupercalia is the degree of nudity. There are definite references to nudus, but that doesn’t necessarily mean naked. It could just mean “having one’s main garment removed,” possibly in reference to the runners wearing goat skin loincloths. But other writers were explicit in mentioning nudity as part of the festivities. It remains an open question whether the festival was PG-, R-, or X-rated.

4. It’s not quite clear who or what the Lupercalia festival was celebrating.

Circle of Adam Elsheimer The Lupercalian Festival in Rome
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

According to the 1st century BCE scholar Marcus Terentius Varro, "the Luperci [are so called] because at the Lupercalia they sacrifice at the Lupercal … the Lupercalia are so called because [that is when] the Luperci sacrifice at the Lupercal." This incredibly unhelpful circular definition has led to centuries of debate about who, or what, the festival was actually celebrating.

Ovid suggested that it was for Faunus (a Roman pastoral god); Livy said it was Inuus (the god of fertility); and Varro said it was a wolf goddess named Luperca. Traditionally, the two sets of runners are related to the mythological founders of Rome—Romulus and Remus—who were suckled by a wolf. But confusingly, Livy says that the twins were ambushed by bandits while celebrating the Lupercalia, leading some scholars to suggest the festival predates Romulus and Remus.

As South African scholar P.M.W. Tennant observed while discussing Romulus and Remus and the Lupercalia, “most of the ideas put forward here are obviously highly conjectural—as all theories concerning the Lupercalia are bound to be."

5. Lupercalia is when Julius Caesar was offered the crown.

Today, Lupercalia is probably most famous for what happened on February 15, 44 BCE. That day a “ naked, perfumed, drunk ” Mark Antony was one of the runners while Julius Caesar watched the proceedings from a throne. Antony went up to Julius Caesar with a diadem (a type of crown or headband) and—in what later historians have said was almost certainly scripted—attempted to give it to Caesar and proclaim him king.

The crowd's initial response to this action was tepid, but when Caesar refused the crown they cheered. Antony tried again, Caesar refused again, and the crowd exploded. Caesar ordered the crown taken to the Temple of Jupiter because Jupiter was Rome’s one king. The purpose of this exercise has been debated. Some propose Antony did it on his own to either flatter Caesar or embarrass him, while at the time it was thought that Caesar orchestrated the stunt as a way to test the waters for whether the people would accept a king. Either way, it didn't really work out for Caesar; he was assassinated one month later.

6. A Pope criticized the festival.

One of Lupercalia's most remarkable features is how long it survived. We know this because circa 494 CE, Pope Gelasius wrote a letter criticizing Christian participation in it. He commented on how in the olden days nobles would run as Lupercali and strike naked matrons, and modern participants should be willing to similarly run naked. By Gelasius’s time this had become heavily altered, leading him to proclaim “your own bashfulness ought itself to teach you that the Lupercalia is a public crime, not salvation and the cult of the Divinity, regarding which no wise man would blush. Rather the Lupercalia is an instrument of depravity, which your mind, bearing testimony against itself, blushes to fulfill.”

The letter is interesting to historians for many reasons. First, because Gelasius flat-out describes many of the less seemly rites, and it also allows historians to analyze how Lupercalia changed with time and changed with the perception of the author. For instance, Gelasius indicated that by the 5th century lower classes were the runners, whereas important figures like Mark Antony participated in earlier events.

7. Despite what you've heard, Lupercalia probably has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day.

Many pop culture websites and books declare that Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with a festival dedicated to St. Valentine of Rome (or possibly of Terni—the figure is mysterious) who had his feast day on February 14. But as British author Mark Forsyth once observed, "It is vitally important when writing about traditions to remember that there are only 365 days in the year ... Overlap is not significance."

Most medieval historians agree there’s no evidence that Pope Gelasius replaced Lupercalia with any festival whatsoever (a similar claim that Candlemas replaced Lupercalia is also without merit) with scholar Jack Oruch proclaiming “at no point does Gelasius speak of compromise or of adapting any pagan customs” and another professor telling History.com: "It just drives me crazy that the Roman story keeps circulating and circulating." Meanwhile, popular legends that Lupercalia featured girls writing their names on paper that would be drawn from a box by boys are likely an 18th-century invention.

Most mainstream historians instead propose that Valentine’s Day and romance became associated with each other only in the late 14th century, and specifically because of a Geoffrey Chaucer poem called "Parliament of Fowls" (or "Parlement of Foules").

8. Valentine’s Day might not even be on February 14.

In Chaucer’s poem, he proclaimed (in modern spelling) “For this was on Saint Valentine’s day / When every bird came there to choose his mate.” But some historians have noted that February 14 is still very cold in England and is unlikely to be a good bird mating season. In the 1980s some historians, led by Andy Kelly of UCLA, began proposing that the "Valentine" Chaucer was referring to was St. Valentine of Genoa, whose feast day occurred on May 2 or May 3 (sources differ), instead of Valentine of Rome. This is especially relevant because King Richard II and Anne of Bohemia concluded their marriage treaty on May 2, meaning Chaucer may have chosen Valentine by just picking out a random saint whose day fell on the correct day in May. Over the years, the association with May weakened and the day migrated to the more famous Valentine of Rome.

Other scholars objected, pointing out that there are many references to fertility rites and festivals in February—such as Lupercalia—and that Chaucer may have been discussing the more famous Valentine of Rome and February 14.

"In medieval studies there is neither consensus nor continuing debate on the question which St. Valentine Chaucer had in mind," Professor Steven Justice of the University of California, Berkeley, tells Mental Floss. "The evidence just hasn't supported any conclusive arguments one way or the other, and unless one is (a) convinced that the feast, whichever it is, identifies the historical occasion of the poem, if it had one, and (b) interested in that historical occasion, the question does not seem very consequential. One would like an answer just because one doesn't like unanswered questions, but it's not clear that much hangs on it."

One thing is clear: Today, whether you celebrate Lupercalia or St. Valentine of Rome’s day in February or St. Valentine of Genoa in May, it's best leave out the goat sacrifices and running naked through the streets.

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