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Ancient Roman Holidays
Transcript of Ancient Roman Holidays
During this festival a household's female members would climb onto the roof of the house and plant the "Garden of Adonis". These gardens contained fast-growing plants. For eight days the women would tend to the plants, and then neglect. After the plants had died the women would mourn for them. There was also a sacred play portraying the wedding of Adonis and Venus held during the Adonia, and was probably based on a Greek tradition. The last part of the festival involved making effigies of Adonis and placing them into coffins. Agonalia
January 1st & 9th
During this festival the Romans gave dates, figs, and honey sealed in white jars to the god Janus. Gifts, and money, would be given to family members as well. Neptunalia July 23
This festival celebrated Neptune as the god of irrigation. During the festival, participants would sit under arbors made from leaves. They would ask Neptune to continue supplying them with fresh water during the heat of the summer and early autumn. Salacia was also worshipped during the Neptunalia. Ludi Romani / Ludi Mangi
"Roman Games" or "Great Games". The Ludi Romani were held in honor of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. They were originally held only on September 13, but were gradually expanded until they were held over 16 days by the time of the Empire. The Ludi Romani began with a solemn procession from Jupiter's temple on the Capitoline to the Circus Maximus. Sacrifices were made to Jupiter, and circus performances were given. Floradia
A feast to celebrate the flowering of grains and to honor Flora. It was a movable festival until the late Republic.
During the Empire, games were held in the Circus Maximus to honor Flora, and the gathered crowds were showered with beans and lupines. Animals with great fertility (rabbits, goats, etc.) were released into the country. Women were encouraged to wear brightly colored clothing during Floralia to honor Flora. The Floralia was also regarded as a festival for prostitutes. Equirra February 27
This festival involved racing horses to honor Mars. It was held in the Campus Martius or the Campus Martialis on the Caelian Hill if the Campus Martius was flooded. The Equirria was said to have been founded by Romulus.
This festival was held to honor the spirits of the crossroads, and to mark the end of the winter planting season.
In the countryside the ritual started at nightfall. Each family member made and hung a woolen doll at the household shrine, and gave strands of garlic to the Lares.
In the cities neighbors would gather together and share honeycakes. Compitalia
"Rural Festival of the Vine". This feast was held to ask Jupiter to not send storms, hail, heavy rains, or floods before the grapes could ripen and be harvested, and to ask him when the best time to harvest said grapes would be.
Venus was also honored during the Vinalia Rustica as a goddess of vegetation and gardens. Vinalia Rustica
This festival was held to honor the Seven Hills of Rome, either all of them together, or just the earliest enclosed part. During the festival sacrifices were made somewhere on each hill. Septimania/Septimonium
On this day, landowners would honor the boundaries of their land at the boundary markers and the god Terminus. Rome's public boundary stone in the temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus was also honored. Garlands were placed over the boundary stones, and altars were built near them. Offerings of grain and honey were given by the children, and the adults would offer wine and pig blood. Everyone was dressed in white, and were required to keep silent throughout the offerings. A picnic feast was held at the end of the ritual. Terminalia Ludi Apollinares:
July 6 - 13
"Games of Apollo". These games were first held in 212 B.C. to celebrate Apollo as a god of healing (especially during war), and lasted for a single day (July 13). They were gradually expanded to eight days, with two days reserved for theatre performances, two days for games in the circus, and the remaining days for markets and fairs. Apollo was given sacrifices during the Ludi Apollinares, and all participants were expected to wear garlands while attending the events. Ludo Apollinares Popilfugia:
This festival means "Flight of the People". Not much is known about it other than it took place on the Field of Mars, and commemorated an event which sent the citizens of Rome fleeing from a foe (perhaps the Gauls or the Latins). Popilfugia
January 24 - 26
"Feast of Spring". This one or two day festival was moveable, but generally began between January 24 and January 26. It was sacred to Tellus, and Ceres, and was a festival for the protection of seeds, either those sown the previous fall, or those to be sown in the spring. During Sementivae plowing oxen were decorated with garlands, and puppets or masks were hung from tree branches. Feriae Semantivae/ Sementinae various dates
Sebasta are festivals held in Roman occupied territory in honor of the Emperor and the Imperial Family. These festivals often included chariot races and other circus games. Sebasta Opisconsivia:
This festival honored Ops and Consus. During the festival, the Vestal Virgins and the Pontifex Maximus would enter her shrine in the Regia. In early Roman times the festival was held in Rome's main grain storage area. Opisconsivia March 1
March 1st was the first day of the year according to the calendar used before the reforms of Julius Caesar. To commemorate the day, the Vestal Virgins re-kindled the sacred fire in Vesta's temple in Rome. New Year's Day Liberalia:
Liberala was a fertility festival celebrated in rural areas, and was held in honor of Liber Pater and Libera. Most towns created a large phallus and carted it through the countryside and into the town center where it stayed until the beginning of the next month. The phallus was decorated by a virtuous woman with flowers, which ensured a good crop at the next harvest. Masks were also hung on fences, and crude songs were sung during the procession. Liberalia
"Day of Joy" This festival honored Attis, and was primarily a festival for the followers of his cult. Several smaller festivals connected to the Hilaria were held on the preceding days, such as the Dies Sanguinis ("day of blood") on March 24, and the Day of Mourning on March 23. Hilaria Lemuria
May 9, 11, 13
Lemuria is a private series of rites held to ward off the Lemures. For the rite, the pater familia got up at Midnight wearing clothes without knots and washed his hands with pure water. He would then walk through the household without looking backwards, making the mano fico sign with his hand, spitting black beans out of his mouth and repeating a prayer nine times. After he was done he would again wash his hands and would then make noise using instruments made of brass. It was thought that the Lemures would collect the beans instead of the souls of the living, and would be scared away by the noise. At the end of the rite he should again say a chant nine times and then look backwards to ensure that the Lemures were gone. March 19
Mars and Minerva
As Minerva was a goddess of learning, this holiday was chiefly observed by students and teachers, but was also important to doctors and artisans like dry cleaners and dyers. Quinquatrus June 11
To Mater Matuta, virgin goddess of the Dawn and matrons. Offerings were taken to Matuta's temple for blessings on children and nephews or nieces. Matralia Carmentalia January 11-15
Festival to Carmentis or Carmenta, the prophetess and mother of Evander, later seen a goddess of childbirth. Devotees, usually women, visted her temple atop the Capitoline Hill. August 17
To Portunus, originally the god of keys, doors and livestock, who because his name sounded like the words for gate and harbor became a god of these things. Celebrations included solemnly throwing keys into a fire for good luck. Probably there were also sacrifices at his temple in the Forum Boarium. Portinalia October 19
Celebrates Mars. This marked the end of the military campaigning season. Soldiers' weapons were ritually purified and stored for the winter on the Aventine Hill. The assembled army was garlanded with flowers and reviewed in the Circus Maximus. Trumpets were played. There was a procession with torches and sacrificial animals. Armilustrium Kalends
1st day of each month
The Kalends of each month is sacred to Juno. Before the calendar reforms of Julius Caesar the Kalends was the day of the new moon.
June 13 - 15
This festival was celebrated by the flute players who played at religious ceremonies. During the Lesser Quinquatrus they played their flutes on the streets of Rome, wearing masks and long robes. Lesser Quinquatrus
On this day the Vestal Virgins made a sacrifice to the Tiber River to convince it to bring a steady supply of water to the city of Rome for the rest of the growing season. Sacrifice Day for the Tiber River
The Greater Quinquatrus was a festival for Minerva as a Goddess of the Arts. The first day of the festival was dedicated to the arts, and those who practiced them would give Minerva sacrifices at her temple on the Aventine. The Greater Quinquatrus v