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Feriae in Roma Antiqua et Hodie!


Aprilis

The month of Aprilis takes its name from an Etruscan god of the same name.

Veberalia - 1 April

Veneralia, the festival of Venus Verticordia. The goddess Fortuna Virilis apparently was also worshipped as part of this festival

Ludi Megalenses - April 4-10

(In honor of Cybele, the Great Mother)
First games of the year when the calendar year began in March, and the most solemn. It heralded spring The following description is from Colleen McCullough's Caesar's Women:

Games were supposedly paid by public funds but state money was never allocated for it. Money from collection of fines and personal money-mostly Caesar's-was used.

Festival of Fortuna Publica - 5 April

Ludi Ceriales - 12-19 April

Games were held to honor Ceres, goddess of grain. The Sybilline Books were consulted after a drought in 496 B.C.. Romans interpreted the message to mean that the Greek gods, Dionysus (wine), Demeter (grain), and Persephone (seasons) should be honored by them. A Greek architect was engaged to design a Greek style temple to Demeter, now called Ceres by the Romans. This temple sat on the Aventine Hill. Fines collected by the Plebeian Aediles or by the Tribuni Plebis were used to maintain this temple. Games were held annually to honor Ceres. These were sponsored by the Plebeian Aediles. Plebeians gave parties in their homes during this time.

Festivals of Jupiter Victor and Jupiter Libertas - 13 April

Fordicidia - 15 April

Fordicidia was a festival at Rome, at which a pregnant cow was sacrificed to Tellus in each of the 30 wards of the city to promote fertility of cattle and the fields. The unborn calves were burned and the ashes were used in a purification rite in the festival of Parilia.

Rome's Birthday and Parilia - 21 April

Felix Dies Natalis, Roma!
April 21
53 B.C.-1996 A.D.

"According to tradition, Romulus took up his trusty plow and marked out a sulcus* around "Shepherds' Hill" on the twelfth day before the Kalends of May, i.e., a.d. XII Kal. Mai.-a date which, give or take eleven or twelve days, roughly corresponds to what we call April 21st. Conveniently, the date was also the festival of the shepherd goddess Pales, in whose honor the hill, chosen by Romulus, had been named the Palatine. Now, anyone who has ever tried to keep a flock of sheep penned up all winter knows that when spring comes, it's really a good idea to do some serious pen cleaning. While you're at it, you might as well clean out your own house which, no doubt, suffered by association with the sheep pens. Better use some sulfur on those sheep too, who couldn't help but turn a little "ripe" after being penned up all winter. In a final effort to clear the air, it's also a good idea to get a large quantitiy of incense and use it to fumigate the entire area. Believe it or not, in ancient times, these were the things that constituted the celebration of the feast of Pales, and coincidentally, of the Birthday of Rome. The whole event seems to have been little more than a glorified Spring Cleaning party." (from Pompeiiana, Vol. XIX, #8)

The festival was named for Pales , a rustic spirit or a sprite who haunted the pastures. The main event of the Palilia was to build a fire of` straw and hay over which the priests leaped. (We do not recommend that you try this) Originally, this festival was held to purify the flock and stay diseases from spreading. One might equate it with the blessing of the animals in December in some churches today. Some describe it as a ritual purification ceremony in which shepherds and flocks were driven through a fire of blazing straw. That would certainly purify them not to speak of roasting them at the same time if they were not swift. It was also an invocation of prosperity for the coming harvest season. Spring would be, as it is with us, the time for planting summer crops. The festival has been likened to Arbor Day, when pupils and teachers, or communities rake public grounds such as campus areas and burn the leaves and grass. This is not common today since we now know that such fires pollute the air. It is common however to plant trees or shrubs and look forward to their growth. When the festival was adopted by city dwellers, the date was set to coincide with the date of the traditional founding of Rome. Each area of Rome set up festivities, much like a block party. Bonfires were set onto which offerings were thrown. The event concluded with a bountiful feast set up out of doors

Rome's Birthday Song

(to the tune of Rodgers' and Hammerstein's Oklahoma)

O! Nostra Roma Urbs Aeterna Septem Collium.
Huc viae ducunt, aquae fluunt, et stat vetus Capitolium!
O! Nostra Roma, olim servata ab ansere, latericia marmorea fiebas Augusto principe.
Amor (tuum nomen retro) plus mansit hic uno saeculo.
Proclamemus "Roma, te salutemus, non morituram,
Maete virtute sis, Roma! Nostra Roma, ave!
Roma,Roma, Nostra Roma
Amor (tuum nomen retro) plus mansit hic uno saeculo.
Proclamemus "Roma, te salutemus, non morituram,
Maete virtute sis, Roma! Nostra Roma, ave, ave R_O_M_A,
Nostra Roma

Lyrics by Judy Hallett

Vinalia Priora - 23 April

Vinalia Priora was the first of two festivals held in Rome connected with wine production. Wine casks filled in the previous autumn were opened and the first draft was offered as a libation (called calpar) to Jupiter. Originally in honor of Jupiter, this festival was later also connected with Venus.

Robigalia - 25 April

At the Robigalia , a rust-colored dog was sacrificed to appease Robigus, the deity of mildew or grain rust.

Ludi Florales - 28 April - 3 May

A feast to honor Flora, the goddess of flowers and to ask for fertility in the fields and families. People wore garlands of flowers; tables were set with mounds of flowers. Much like May day celebrations in certain areas of Europe.

Activities for April:

As of yet there are no additional activities for April. If you have an idea for one, please suggest it to us!

Maius

The month of May is named after the goddess Maia, who was the daughter of Atlas and Pleione, and the mother Mercury by Jupiter.

Festival of the Lares Praestites - 1 May

Derby Day - 1st Saturday in May

Meus Vetus Domus Kentuckiensis

Iam aestas est et in sole splendido
Sunt omnes domi hilares
Maturae fruges et segetes laetae
Atque cantant undique aves.
In casa humili ludunt pueri,
Elati omnes gaudio;
Sed cum calamitas nova opprimat
Discendendum nobis est domo.

Flere noli era, o lacrimas sicca;
Hoc canemus unum de illa domo mea,
De longinqua mea domo illa.

N.B. In song and poetry, there is elision when two vowels meet, one at the end of a word and one at the beginning of the next. Elision means you eliminate the first vowel. Domo illa becomes domilla.

The Lemuria - 9 May

The Lemuria was held on 9, 11, and 13 May to appease the spirits of the household dead at a time when they were supposed to haunt the house. (The most terrifying of these spirits were those who had died young, since they were thought to bear a grudge.) Each householder rose at midnight and made the mano fico sign (the thumb between the middle of the closed fingers ---a fertility charm) and walked barefoot through the house. As he went he spat out nine black beans over his shoulder. These were for the ghosts to eat as ransom for the living member of the household whom the ghosts would otherwise carry off. This was accompanied and followed by other rites designed to drive away the ghosts.

Sacrifices to Mania - 11 May

Possibly as part of Lemuria, sacrifices were made to Mania (mother of the lares). Mania seems to have been regarded as a goddess of death, and so a sacrifice to her during Lemuria was likely.

Festival of Mars Invictus - 14 May

Also on 14 may Vestal Virgins, pontiffs, praetors and others threw 30 argei into the Tiber River. The meaning of these ancient ceremonies has been lost.

Ambarvalia - 15 May

On the Ides of May, all the pontifices, praetors, vestals and prominent citizens would gather to offer human effigies in a symbolic sacrifice to propitiate the gods. It is assumed that human sacrifice had indeed been the initial sacrifice but by the time history was recorded straw effigies had been created. The worthies would stand on the Sublician Bridge over the Tiber River, offer prayers, and then throw the effigies into the water

Festivals of Jupiter and Mercury - 15 May

A festival of Maia was also on 15 May, because she was confused with the Greek goddess Maia, mother of Hermes. He was equated with the Roman god Mercury, who was worshipped on 15 May.

The Festival of Vediovis - 21 May

A Tubilustrium Festival - 23 May

This was a repetition of the ceremony held on 23 March. Also the festival of Vulcan.

Festival of Fortuna - 25 May

Ambarvalia - 29 May

This feast was to celebrate the purification of the land and beseech the aid of Ceres. Rich and healthy soil was so important. Songs were recited in honor of Ceres.

Memorial Day - 31 May

Dies ad tenendum in memoria omnes qui amaveramus et perdideramus.

Activities for May:

As of yet there are no additional activities for May. If you have an idea for one, please suggest it to us!

September

September was the seventh month on the Roman calendar, hence the name.

Jupiter Liber and Juno Regina - 1 September

Festival of Jupiter Stator - 5 September

Ludi Romani - 5-19 September (nones Septembres ad a.d. v ides Septembres)
September harvest games, 15 day festival (the number of days and dates varied over time. Originally sacred to Jupiter but the religious significance was lost over time). The following description is offered of the event as staged by Caesar during his aedileship as offered by the author Colleen McCullough in Caesar's Women. I offered some comparisons to modern events:

Day 1: A parade from Capitol through Forum to Circus-3 hours to pass one spot-led by chief magistrates and the Senate, followed by bands of beautifully mounted youths, chariots which would race, athletes who were to compete (rf. Olympics opening ceremony), hundreds of dancers, mummers, musicians, dwarves tricked out as satyrs and fauns, slaves bearing hundreds of gorgeous silver or gold urns and vases, groups of mock warriors in bronze belted tunics wearing fabulous crested helmets on their heads and brandishing swords and spears; sacrificial animals and last in most honored place all twelve major Gods and many other gods and heroes riding on open litters of gold and purple realistically painted and clad in exquisite clothes. On the ides, a cow was sacrificed at Jupiter's temple. Statues of the gods were dressed up and placed on couches to share the feast with humans. The whole of the Circus had been decorated using millions of fresh flowers (rf. Pasadena rose bowl)- roses, violets, stocks, wallflowers. There were free refreshments, novelties such as rope walkers and fire belchers and acrobats (modern circus). Every day something new. The festivities ended with superb chariot races.

Festivals of Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno and Minerva - 13 September

Festival of Apollo - 23 September

Festival of Venus Genetrix - 26 September

Activities for September

No activities as of yet for September, but suggestions are always welcome!

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