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Roman feasts


Feasts in ancient Rome were an important part of Roman religious life, both in republican and imperial times, and the Roman calendar. Feriae (or dies ferialis – “holy days”) were either public (publicae) or private (privatae). State festivals and celebrations were financed from the public treasury and were celebrated by all Romans. Games (ludi), such as Ludi Apollinares, were not actually feriae, but rather dies festi, i.e. days non-working (today’s holiday).

When feriae was financed from a public purse, ludi were often sponsored by individual rich people. Feriae privatae were feasts celebrated in honour of individuals or families. This article refers to public feasts, including the ordinances of priests in temples, as well as major festivities celebrated by neighbourhoods and families.

There are three types of feriae:

Stativae were feasts that had a fixed date on the calendar.

  • Conceptivae were annual feasts that were often moved. The date of the holiday was announced by the masters or priests who were responsible for their organization.
  • Imperativae were feasts announced on demand.

One of the most important and best ancient sources dedicated to the Roman feasts is “Fasti” Ovid, which is an endless poem describing the festivals from January to June in the time of Octavian Augustus.

During the reign of later emperors, the number of feasts even reached 200 days. Certain feasts were celebrated by arranging games, races and theatre performances. Below is a calendar of some of the most important feasts with information on what occasion they were celebrated and the Latin name of the holiday.

Roman feasts celebrated


January


early January

  • Compitalia – in the countryside, every farmer built a small chapel with an altar on the border of their fields. He assembled a plough and wooden dolls there, one for each person at home. The next day the holiday was celebrated. A cleansing offering was made for the coming year.In the city, the chairman of every insulae sacrificed a hen on the altar raised at each intersection. Then followed three days of Christmas.

January 1

  • January calendars – new consuls were sworn in. Bulls were sacrificed to Jupiter as a thank you for looking after last year. The consuls promised that their successors would repeat the same thing next year; Feast of Veiovisa (also on May 21); feast of Aesculapius.

January 5

  • Rex Sacrorum announced public feasts in January.

January 9

  • Agonalia – a festival celebrated four times. That day, the god of all origins was worshiped. Other days are: March 17 – in honour of the god of war Mars; May 21 – in honour of the god of the underworld and the death of Veiovisa (feast of Veiovisa); December 11 – in honour of the sun god Sola Indigesa. On the day of the celebration of Rex Sacrorum, he sacrificed a ram in Regia, asking God for favor and protection against evil and death. The name of the holiday comes from the question, which before the sacrifice was asked by the priest: “Agone?”, Meaning “should I kill?”

January 11

  • Juturna feast

January 11-15

  • Carmentalia

January 16

  • Concordiae

January 27

  • Anniversary of the construction of the first Temple of Castor and Pollux at the Roman Forum, which was a vote of thanks for victory over the Latinos at Lake Regillus. When the scales of victory on the side of the enemy appeared two young men on white steeds, who rushed to the opponent, and after a while the Romans started to counterattack, and the young men disappeared. They appeared at Juturna’s sources capturing horses and proclaiming victory while the battle was still going on.

January 30

  • festival of peace – festival during which sacrifices were made at the altars of peace. At the beginning it was a rural feast, during which farmers made sacrifices asking for peace in the state. Octavian August changed the character of these celebrations after the division of Rome into 265 districts, gave the order to put on all streets and border intersections between the districts of chapels in honour of Lares Compitales.Then these chapels embraced the cult of Genius Augustus, which eventually turned into a cult Lares Augusti. In these chapels, sacrifices were asked for peace, while the main ceremonies took place at Ara Pacis.

February


February 2

  • Paganalia – festival in honour of Ceres (goddess of vegetation and fertility) and Tellus (goddess of fertility)), so-called sowing festival. On this day, sacrifices were made in the form of traditional sacrificial cakes, home-baked cakes and pregnant sow for Ceres and Mater Tellus, thus asking for protection of the crops against birds, ants, cold weather, bad weather, weeds and parasites.

February 9

  • feast of Apollo

February 12

  • Diana’s feast (also on August 13)

February 13-21

  • Parentalia – these days the Romans visited the graves of their ancestors in cemeteries outside the city, behind the holy border pomerium. They gave them gifts (sacrificia): flowers – most often violets, salt, wheat, bread dipped in wine, milk and wine, feeding them in such a way that they would not harm the living. The celebrations ended on February 21 Feraliami

February 15

  • Luperkalia – Luperkalia was a festival in honour of the god Faun or originally the Old Roman god of shepherds Luperkus, who protected their herds from wolves. The holiday was to be established by the mythological Ewander. An important role during the Luperkalia was played by the cult of the aforementioned Faun – a Roman deity, half human, half goat. The holiday was associated with the Roman legend of Faustulus, a shepherd who was to find the twins (Romulus and Remus) in a lair’s bed and take him to his home, where they were to be raised by his wife, Akka Laurentia.The festival was celebrated in the Lupercal cave in the Palatine, where, according to beliefs, the legendary founders of Rome, the twins Romulus and Remus, were fed by a she-wolf. Then sacrifices were made of two goats and a dog, and priests called Luperki, dressed only in the skin of a newly killed goat, circled the Palatine Hill and struck passers-by with straps (februa) from the skins of sacrificial animals. Childless women gave in to blows, which was supposed to guarantee fertility, and to others encountered – cleansing from blemish and blemish last year. The practice of loupes was to introduce a new element to the human body to strengthen life and creative forces.Luperkalia are probably the prototype of today’s Valentine’s Day.

February 17

  • Quirinalia

February 20

  • festival of the goddess Tacita

February 21

  • Feralia – a festival in honour of the spirits of deceased ancestors, which was the main celebration ending the holiday week ( February 13-20). Parentalia of a private nature. During the celebration, modest gifts in the form of wreaths, flowers, a little food and wine were placed on the graves. You always had to remember to celebrate this holiday. According to legend, Feralia was forgotten during one of the wars. Because of this, the city was hit by plague and the souls of the dead took to the streets. Only when the offerings were made did the souls of the dead return to their graves and the plague ceased.

February 22

  • Caristia – a holiday that was the closing ceremony of Parentalia in honour of deceased ancestors. During this time, families met at a joint feast. The household members offered food and incense to laras, the souls of the dead guarding the house. The day of this holiday was a day of reconciliation, and all disputes were to be set aside. The poet Ovid noticed ironically that this could only be achieved by excluding those family members who caused the most trouble. The holiday is also known as Cara Cognatio.

February 23

  • Terminalia – a festival in honour of the god Terminus, the god of borders between private properties, but above all state borders. His statue was on the border of private properties and was usually in the form of stone. The owners of the neighboring property adorned the statue with wreaths and offered a sacrifice in the form of a little grain, honeycombs, and wine. In addition, a sheep or pig was killed in honour of the deity. The ceremony ended with singing a song of praise.The public ceremony, in turn, involved performing similar rituals on the sixth milestone along the road to Laurentum (between Ostia and Lavinium). The ceremony took place here probably because it was originally the border of the Roman state.

February 24

  • Regifugium

February 27

  • Equirria (also on March 14)

March


March 1

  • a ceremony was held in Vesta’s temple during which the “eternal” fire was lit again. On this day, Saliów dances began. Twelve young patricians danced around Rome, holding holy shields. The journey lasted 19 days. Each night the dancers celebrated in a different home;
  • beginning of the new year;
  • Matronalia – the prototype of our Women’s Day. At that time, men gave their wives gifts, and their spouses went to the grove at the temple of Juno on Eskwilin. There they also sacrificed flowers to the goddess and prayed for happiness in married life, while at home they offered refreshments for their slaves.

March 14

  • Equirria – on this day on the Martian Field horse races were held to celebrate the holiday of Mars, the god of war.

March 15

  • festival of the goddess of the year called Anna Perenna. People went to the folk festival on the Tiber. Some believed that they would survive as many years as goblets of wine they could drink
  • March Id – a holiday dedicated to one of the most important Roman gods – Mars, or Greek Ares. Military ceremonies and parades were celebrated then, and the Senate had a day off.

March 16-17

  • Argea were conducted. The ceremony took place on March 16 and 17, and on May 14 and 15. In August’s time, the purpose of these rites was unclear even to the Romans themselves. In May, a procession of priests, pontifics, vestals and praetors around the circus took place, which passed through 27 stations (sacella or sacraria), where each of them took a human figure made made of cane and straw. After all stations were completed, the procession went to Pons Sublicius, the oldest known bridge in Rome, where the collected puppets were thrown into the Tiber. According to Ovid, this ritual was established as a way to please Saturn or Tiberinus. However, we do not know the exact reason for the ceremony.

March 17

  • Agonalia (also on January 9, May 21 and December 11);
  • Liberalia – it was a festival dedicated to the Roman deity – Liber, whose worship originated in central Italy. His cult was initially associated with horses and grain. Later Liber was identified with the Greek Dionysus. On that day, Libera, the wife of the god mentioned, was also worshiped. Liberal Day was a time of freedom of expression and the entry of 15-16 year old boys into the world of adults (they got rid of bulla praetexta).

March 19-23

  • Quinquatrus or Quinquatria – a holiday initially dedicated to Mars. Over time, when Minerva began to patronize craftsmen and craft guilds received their sacred place on Awentina, Quinquatrus changed their character and became a festival of craftsmen and young students (she made the so-called minerval , tuition fee). According to Mark Terentius Warron, the festival was named so because it took place on the fifth (quinqu-) day at Idach. On the first day of Quinquatrus, Minerva was sacrificed, and during the wars on that day the fighting was interrupted. In the following days gladiator games were held, and on the last day in the shoemakers’ hall (atrium sutorium), the blessing of trumpets took place, the so-called tubilustrium (the trumpet was an instrument of the goddess).

March 23

  • Tubilustrium – in the ceremony in honour of the god Mars the sacred war trumpets were cleaned. Of course, it was to ensure victory in future battles. The holiday also took place on May 23.

March 25

  • Hilaria – a festival celebrated on the occasion of the spring equinox and worship of the Phrygian goddess of fertility, fertility, spring and defensive cities. March 25 was an extremely positive day because of the joyous days of the resurrection celebration of the vegetation god Attis – companion Cybele.

March 31

  • festival of the goddess Luna identical with Diana.

April


April 1

  • Veneralia (often combined with a day in honour of Fortune Virilis [April 5] and Ceralia).

April 4-10

  • Ludi Megalenses – Games were held in honour of the goddess Kybele, the Great Mother.

April 12-19

  • Cerealia (Ceres festival, also on November 18) – it was connected to the Olympic Games ( ludi Cereales). Ovid mentions that during the Ceralia, small, burning torches were attached to the tails of the foxes. The animals were then released into the Circus Maximus arena. The reasons for this ritual are unknown. It is believed that this treatment had a positive effect on the growth of crops and protected them against all diseases. Ovid gives an explanation for this ritual in mythical history. A provincial boy caught a fox stealing chickens. He decided to set it on fire, but did not foresee that the animal would move to the field and burn all the crops dedicated to the goddess Ceres.

April 12-19

  • Ludi Ceriales – Games were organized in honour of the goddess Cerera, lady of cereals. During the people of Ceriales, there were games (ludi circenses), games, chariot races, and from 175 BC also theater performances (ludi scaenici).

April 13

  • April passes; feast of Jupiter.

April 15

  • Fordicidia

April 21

  • Parilia – was a folk festival during which ritual cleansing of sheep was carried out to protect the flock against plague. Then they were also celebrated in Rome, because this day was considered the date of the founding of the city. Each district of Rome organized its own celebrations, bonfires were lit and small victims were thrown into them. The braver ones danced in flames. Parilia ended with a great street holiday.

April 23-28

  • Vinalia – wine and garden harvest festivals that were held in honour of Jupiter and Venus. On this day, the so-called the first Winalia (Vinalia prima or Vinalia Priora), which were thankful for the previous, good harvest and begging for abundant harvest this year. Another day – August 19, the so-called rural Winalia (Rustic Vinalia), which was celebrated before harvest and squeezing grapes.

April 25

  • Robigalia – a former holiday in honour of the deities of Robigo and Robigus. According to tradition, established by Pompei’s number. According to the Romans, Robigo was a deity responsible for securing crops against so-called grain rust, which destroyed huge amounts of fields. During the Robigalia, the retinue of the faithful went to the sacred grove, where the Flamen Quirinalis sacrificed a ginger dog and a sheep, which was to protect the crop from crop failure. Then races (ludi cursoribus) were organized in honour of Mars and Robigo. There were two types of races: younger participants ran two-horse chariots (biga) so that more experienced ones could sit in four-horse (quadriga).

April 28 – May 3

  • Ludi Florales – the festival resembled a carnival, celebrated in honour of the goddess of flowers and fertility. They were also called Floralia. People danced with colorful gilandes. Stacks of flowers were arranged on the tables.

May


May 1

  • celebrated Bona Dea festival (also beginning of December); Laribius (also on May 15).

May 9, 11 and 13

  • Lemuralia (Lemuria).

May 14-15,

  • Argea were conducted. The ceremony took place on March 16 and 17, and on May 14 and 15. In August’s time, the purpose of these rites was unclear even to the Romans themselves. In May, a procession of priests, pontifics, vestals and praetors around the circus took place, which passed through 27 stations (sacella or sacraria), where each of them took a human figure made made of cane and straw. After all the stations were completed, the procession went to Pons Sublicius, the oldest known bridge in Rome, where the collected puppets were thrown into the Tiber. According to Ovid, this ritual was established as a way to please Saturn or Tiberinus. However, we do not know the exact reason for the ceremony.

May 15

  • A day of the Tiber River was celebrated. On that day, Vestals made sacrifices in honour of Tiber, in order to ensure a constant supply of water for the rest of the crop period.
  • Mercuralia – known as the Mercury Festival. Mercury was the god of merchants and commerce. That day, traders sprinkled their heads, ships, goods and business with water taken from a well in Porta Capena. They did so to count on the favor of their guardian in trade.

May 21

May 23

  • Tubilustrium (also on March 23). It was a festival of musicians, in honour of Vulcan, responsible for the process of making trumpets, during which trumpets and trumpets were most commonly used during public and religious ceremonies.

May 25

  • Feast of Fortune.

May 29

  • Ambarvalia

June


June 1

  • the festival of Juno (also on July 7, as Nonae Caprotinae); feast of Mars; Tempestatibus; Carny Day.

June 3

  • Bellona festival.

June 4

  • Feast of Hercules (also on June 29).

June 5

  • feast of Sancus.

June 7

  • Vesta Asperit festival was celebrated. It was a festival dedicated to the goddess of health, which began on June 7 and lasted until 15. During this time there were numerous celebrations in honour of Vesta Asperit, during which bakers and millers did not work and decorated their mills or mules with violets and other smaller flowers.
  • Tiberinus festival.

June 8

  • Mens Bony festival – Mons Bona (“Good Thought”), goddess symbolizing mental clarity and peace of mind. Her worship was especially popular among plebeians, liberators and slaves. The temple was erected in her honour in 217 BC on the Capitoline Hill on the advice of the Sibylline Books. It was consecrated in 215 BC

June 9

  • Vestalia – married women went to the temple of Vesta, carrying food for the goddess. Westalia was a celebration of bakers and millers, because the Vestals made bread with salted flour (mola salsa). Vestalia was also a day of rest for slaves employed in the hard work of mills while turning the mill.

June 11

  • Matralia (Mater Matuta festival).

June 13-15

  • Quinquadratus

June 19

  • Minerva festival (also on March 19 and September 19) – it was a time when the Romans offered gifts in honour of Minerva – the goddess of wisdom, art and craft.

June 20

  • Summanus festival.

June 24

  • Fors Fortuna – a festival in honour of the goddess Fortuna, a great public holiday. People were swimming in the Tiber’s milking to watch sacrifices in two Fortune temples outside Rome. They spent the rest of the day enjoying the wine.

June 25-26

  • Ludi Quinquennales.

June 27

  • Initium Aestatis took place, the beginning of summer festival. It was a holy celebration in honour of Aestas, the protective god of summer. Her occurrence is not certain in Roman mythology. It is possible that the deity is a figment of Ovid’s imagination. The poet describes the goddess as a figure standing next to the throne of the sun god, along with other deities of the day, year, etc. She was depicted as a naked woman with a wreath of ears of corn.
  • Jupiter Stator.

June 29

  • Feast of Hercules (also on June 4) and Music.

July


July 5

  • Poplifugia or populifugia – ś a celebration to celebrate the escape of the Romans from the unexpected invasion of the inhabitants of Ficuleae and Fidenae (according to Macrobius were Tuscan; Plutarch claims simply “Latinos”) after Rome was plundered and burned by the Gauls in 390 BC. In the times of the Republic, some Romans did not know the meaning of this holiday themselves. Varron recalls that the Romans celebrating the holiday on July 5 suddenly fled with a scream. It is strange, however, that proud Romans want to celebrate their cowardice. Therefore, Plutarch believes that the day of actually celebrating the ascension to the heavens of the first king – Romulus. Two days later – July 7 – the Romans were supposedly celebrating victory over the enemy – the so-called Nonae Caprotinae or holiday Juno Caprotinae.

July 6-13

  • Ludi Apollinares – in the days of the republic this holiday was associated with religious ceremonies in honour of Apollo. For the first time the festival took place in 212 BC in honour of Apollo, the god of healing (especially since it was the time of the Punic war), and lasted one day – July 13. Over time, the holiday extended to eight days, where two days were intended for theater performances, two for games in the amphitheater, and the rest of the days for markets and fairs. During the Empire, Ludi Apollinares were just an excuse to organize theater shows, games and races, and to please the crowd in this way. Celebrating Romans used to wear wreaths on their heads during the festival.

July 7

  • Nonae Caprotinae (festival of Juno, also on June 1).

July 15

  • Dioskur Festival – a festival in honour of Castor and Pollux, divine twins and sons (according to one version) of Zeus. The cult of Dioscuras passed to ancient Rome through the influence of Greek colonies in southern Italy and won great support because of their similarity to the native Roman twins, sons of Mars. July 15 was supposedly the day when the Dioscurists came down from heaven to help the Romans win their enemies and personally brought the news of victory to Rome.

July 23

  • Neptunalia – according to some ancient sources that day, the ancient Romans celebrated feasts in honour of Neptune, god seas. For unspecified reasons, little has been preserved about them, but there are talk about some games/games and about building mud huts/tents/huts under which the people celebrated. The reason for such faint references is probably that both Neptune and the seas played a relatively small role in the life of the Romans.

July 25

  • Furinalia – a little-known festival in honour of Furrina. Just like about the celebration of the holiday and about the goddess itself, very little is known today – it is only known that Cicero compared her to Fury (although probably only because of the similarity of the name), and etymological studies seem to claim that Furrina was originally a deity associated with spring.

August


August 12

  • the god Mercury was known for his deceptions and cunning. He was especially popular with business people and merchants who paid 10% of their income to the temple of this god. For this money a public holiday was organized on that day; Feast of Hercules.

August 13

  • Nemoralia – it was a festival of the goddess Diana. The slaves had a day off. On that day, they worshiped the goddess Diane in the temple of Aventine, according to a tradition that it was built by king Servius Tullius, of slavery. In addition, all women traditionally washed their hair that day.
  • Vertumnalia – festival of the god Vertumnus and goddess Pomona.

August 17

  • Portunalia

August 18

  • Consualia – the festival took place twice: August 21 and December 15. That day, the Romans worshiped Consus, the god who took care of the grain accumulated in the granaries or Neptunus Equestris. According to Plutarch, Neptunus Equestris and Consus were different names for the same god. Every year, an altar dedicated to the deity was unveiled and buried at Circus Maximus. The first to find the altar according to tradition was Romulus. During the consualia, all horses, asses and mules were decorated with wreaths and released from work. At Circus Maximus there were horse races then, and in its underground sacrifices were made on the Consus altar, made available only during this holiday. According to Roman accounts, it was during Consualia that Sabinek was kidnapped. The holiday was agricultural and archaic and symbolized the end of the harvest.

19 August

  • Vinalia Rustica – the harvest of grapes, vegetables and the time of nature’s fertility were celebrated on this day. During the festival, gardens, markets and vineyards were dedicated to the oldest form of Venus – Venus Obsequens. The purpose of the holiday was to ask Jupiter not to bring storms, hail, heavy rainfall or floods before the grapes ripen. In addition, he was asked when the best time to harvest would be. On the same day Venus was worshiped as the goddess of vegetation and gardens.

August 23

  • Vulcanalia festival in honour of Vulcan, the god of fire. Other deities were also worshiped at that time: Maia, Hora and Ops. The Temple of the Vulcan in Rome was located on the Roman Forum at the foot of the Capitoline Hill. The Vulcan shrine was also in the Field of Mars. Interestingly, Etruscan priests (haruspices) advised the Romans that the Vulcan temple should always be outside the city limits.

August 25

  • Opiconsivia (holiday Ops Consivii) – holiday in honour Ops, the Roman goddess of fertility, fertility and wealth, also revered as an agricultural caretaker. The holiday symbolized the end of the harvest, and a similar holiday took place on December 19, when storage of grain was celebrated. Often, the holiday was also associated with Consus, the keeper of grains and underground food storage containers (silos). During the festival, Westalka and Pontifex Maximus, dressed in white robes and carrying the praefericulum – a bronze sacrifice bowl, entered the temple of the deity in Regia. In ancient Roman times, the festival was held at the capital’s main grain storage site.

27 August

  • Volturnalia – a holiday celebrated to protect still ripening fruit from deterioration in the hot southeast winds (often occurring at this time of year). During the festival, Volturnus, the god of the river and the southeast wind, was worshiped.

September


September 1

  • Celebrations of Jupiter Liber, god of creativity and Juno Regina were celebrated. Both deities belonged to the so-called “Capitoline Triad”.

September 5-19

  • Ludi Romani – the most important Roman festival, also called Ludi Magni. Initially, during the holiday, games, races and theater performances were organized to celebrate the god Jupiter, but later the religious significance of the holiday was forgotten. On September 13 (originally only the holiday took place), a sacrifice of a cow was offered at Jupiter’s temple, while the entire Senate and city officials attended the feast. The statue of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva was dressed and laid on beds so that they could feast with mortals. Then the procession went to Circus Maximus, where the games took place. The feast was to be established by Tarkwiniusz Stary after conquering the city of Apiolae or, as Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Cicero indicate after the Roman victory over the Latinos in the battle of Regillus Lake in 496 BC (so-called votum). The festival was celebrated annually from 366 BC
  • Jupiter Stator festival took place, which was also celebrated on June 27.

September 13

  • September events; feast of Jupiter Capitoline, Juno and Minerva.

September 26

  • feast in honour of Venus Genetrix. Celebrated thanks to Julius Caesar, who claimed that he owed her grace and divine protection; in addition, the Julian dynasty was thought to have been derived from Venus. For the first time the festival took place in 46 BC in the temple of Venus Genetrix at the Forum of Caesar.

October


October 9

  • feast in honour of Venus Victrix (“Venus of Victory”).

October 11

  • Meditrinalia – Roman holiday of unclear meaning, which was probably dictated by the desire to honour the new harvest of grapes. At that time, the wine was consumed from new years, which was to win the favor of the gods. It is known that this festival was associated with Jupiter and played an important role in the rites of the Romans.

October 13

  • Fontinalia – it was a festival of sources in honour of the god Fons, during which the fountains were decorated with flowers and they threw their petals into the water. In Italy, the summer was extremely stuffy, hence the Romans were counting on the providence of their god who would send regular rains and provide abundant crops;

October 15

  • October events
  • in honour of the god of war Mars there was a ritual of Equus October. This ritual ended the season of agricultural works and military campaigns. The rite took place during one of three chariot races in honour of Mars (so-called Equirria). Two-horse teams (bigae) competed with each other on the track at Field Mars (Campus Martius). The horse that belonged to the victorious chariot and was on the right was pierced with a spear and sacrificed. The horse’s head (caput) and tail (cauda) were cut off and used separately at each stage of the ceremony. Scientists believe that many aspects of the rite were adopted from the Etruscans.

October 19

  • Armilustrium

November


November 4-17

  • Ludi Plebeii – a festival in honour of Jupiter, which lasted until November 17. This religious holiday honoured plebeian political freedom – either the expulsion of the last king or the abolition of patrician domination. During this holiday there was a festival in honour of Jupiter (November 13), Epulum lovis – driving parade (November 14) and theatrical performances (ludi scaenici) were held, races and Games – ludi circenses (November 15-17). Ludi was established in 216 BC and took place in Circus Flaminius until the 4th century AD

November 13

  • November fights were celebrated, during which the festival in honour of Jupiter took place (Epulum Jovis). During the festival, a triad of gods (Junona, Minerva and Jupiter) were invited to accompany mortals in the form of statues during the feast. If celebrated at home, monuments were often placed on exclusive sofas (pulvinaria) in the most important place at the table. At dinner, the best dishes and wine were served to win the favor of the gods.
  • A holiday Feroniae was celebrated in honour of the goddess Feroni who looked after the fields, forests, groves and springs.

November 18

  • Ceres festival (also on April 10-19, as Cerealia). In addition, fairs and fairs (mercatus) began, which lasted until November 20. Cicero mentions that Numa Pompilius, the semi-legendary king of Rome, established mercatus to facilitate trade and associated him with the people of Cereales. Since then, more people have gathered in the markets.

November 24

  • Brumalia – a month-long holiday for part of Bacchus or Saturn/Kronos. It is believed that its celebration began the first king of Rome – Romulus. The legendary ruler was supposed to entertain senators, the army and service throughout the month. To this end, he invited other personalities to play, depending on which day they were assigned to on the lists. He encouraged similar actions of senators who were to look after their subordinates. In addition, during the Brumalia , the goddess Demeter and Kronos sacrificed a pig (grower), and Dionysus a goat (wine-growing farmers) – the goat was considered the enemy of wine; for this purpose, a sack full of air was made from her skin and she jumped on it. Ordinary residents of Rome, in turn, offered gifts of Ceres (wine, olive oil, honey and grain) to the priests of the goddess. There was a cheerful mood during the festival, and the saints enjoyed wine. The name of the holiday comes from the word: bruma, meaning “the shortest day.” The Romans who focused on the army, agriculture and hunting found the November short days a period of rest from everyday tasks. Prophecies were predicted for the rest of winter during this holiday. The holiday was celebrated until the sixth century AD, when it was considered pagan and not worthy.

November 29

  • Minerva festival; weavers’ festival (also on 19 June).

December


December 3

  • was celebrated Bona Dea festival (“Good Goddess”). It was a Roman holiday in honour of the Roman agrarian god, Bona Dea, daughter of Faunus. This feast was worshiped only by women, due to the nature of Bona Dea herself – the goddess who is both virgin and responsible for female fertility.

December 5

  • Faunalia
  • Feast of Tiberinus

December 10

  • Lux Mundi – festival in honour of Libertas.

December 11

  • Agonalia – a festival in honour of the sun god Sol Indiges.

December 15

  • Consualia – the festival took place twice: August 21 and December 15. That day, the Romans worshiped Consus, the god who took care of the grain accumulated in the granaries or Neptunus Equestris. According to Plutarch, Neptunus Equestris and Consus were different names for the same god. Every year, an altar dedicated to the deity was unveiled and buried at Circus Maximus. The first to find the altar according to tradition was Romulus. During the consualia, all horses, asses and mules were decorated with wreaths and released from work. At Circus Maximus there were horse races then, and in its underground sacrifices were made on the Consus altar, made available only during this holiday. According to Roman accounts, it was during Consualia that Sabinek was kidnapped. The holiday was agricultural and archaic and symbolized the end of the harvest.

December 17-23

  • Saturnalia – it was an annual festival in honour of the god of agriculture of Saturn. It was celebrated from 17 to 23 December. It was a festival of reconciliation and equality. The most important rite of the day was that the masters and slaves exchanged roles for one day (the owners served the slaves, or the soldiers commanded centurions). During the feasts all business activities were suspended; was free from work and public duties. The time was filled with official ceremonies and home rituals in honour of the gods, lavish banquets, family feasts, and giving out presents. During the feast of Saturn , sacrifices were made, and retinue of marrying people were going through the whole city for feasts and games. Piglets were killed in sacrifice, and the next day they were eaten at dinner, during which the masters served their slaves. Family fathers were given gifts – mainly wax candles and clay figurines (as a symbol of human sacrifice to Saturn in earlier times). The festival had a cheerful character. December 17 commemorated the erection in Rome of the temple of Saturn, equivalent to the Greek Kronos. It was originally on that day, but for years the holiday was prolonged, until it lasted until December 23, ending just before Sol Invictus. Over time, the holiday was extended to December 25. In the early period of Saturnalia it lasted only a day, but then it was celebrated for up to seven days.The last day of the holiday – December 23 was called Sigillaria (literally: the festival of statuettes). On this day, the so-called sigillaria, i.e. traditional gifts: pottery or clay figurines, from which children set up scenes depicting the lives of their ancestors. The person who sold such products was called sigillarius. During the holiday, greetings with the words: Io Saturnalia!.

December 23

  • Larentalia – a feast in honour of the goddess Accy Larentia. That day, priest Kwiryna sacrificed to Manom ​​in the Velabrum Gorge between the Palatine and the Capitol, where the alleged tomb of Accy Larentia was to be.

December 25

  • Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (“Birth of the Invincible Sun”). Sol Invictus was an ancient cult, originating in Persia, but worshiped mainly in Rome, from where it got its name. The cult was introduced by Emperor Aurelian in 274 CE.It was dedicated to Mithra, identified with the Roman god Sol, i.e. the Sun. The holiday commemorated his birth in the Zagros Mountains. On this day, the Romans gave each other gifts and wished each other, kissed under the mistletoe.To replace pagan feasts, the Christian authorities decided to place the birth of Christ on this very date – this is indicated by the commentary on the twelfth-century account of Dionysius bar Salibi, which says that it was the custom of pagans to celebrate the birth of the sun on this day (December 25). Due to the attachment to feasts rooted in people’s consciousness during this period, it was decided to celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25. Interestingly – in the litany to the Holy Name of Jesus (probably founded in the fifteenth century), we find Jesus ‘sun of justice’.

Country feasts


Roman fresco showing men dressed in praetexta gown, with maroon edges. The scene probably shows the moment of celebrating the festival Compitalia.

Among the numerous permanent feasts, those that were the oldest in the Roman calendar prevailed, namely the feasts of rural and agricultural deities. In January (repeated on May 21), rural communes celebrated the sowing festival (dies sementivae) in honour of Cerera and Tellus, the gods who took care of the crop. The most popular of these days were Paganalia (or feriae Paganicae – from pagus or “commune”) on 24-25. On the first day the hog sacrifice of the goddess Tellus was offered, on the second day spelt offered to Cerera. These feasts were somehow the end of all work related to grain and the beginning or preparation for spring work.

In February, the month of purification, which is associated with the name Februarius (februum – a means of cleansing from blemish) was celebrated on 15 pastoral feast , related to the families of Quinctiliani and Fabia – Lupercalia. They were to get to Italy through Euandra from Arcadia, where the Lord was worshiped – a shepherd deity.

The feast of rural deities abounded in spring April. In addition to Ludi Ceriales, April 15 was celebrated with Fordicidia offering a sacrifice to the Mother of Earth (Tellus Mater) with a cow and her fetus sacrifice, even when she wakes nature comes to life and the crops begin to germinate, ensure their harvest. their harvest.

Sources

  • Jaczynowska Maria, Religie świata rzymskiego, Warszawa 1987
  • Zieliński Tadeusz, Religia Rzeczypospolitej Rzymskiej

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