Feasts & Holidays

 

 . . . During the Late Roman Republic


CONTENTS

 


 TABLE OF FEASTS, HOLIDAYS, AND PUBLIC GAMES (Ludi)

The following table lists the holidays which were not only celebrated in Rome, but throughout the territories it controlled as well as by its military in the field. The major games held each year are designated by magenta highlighting.

 

On (mo./day) 

Name

In Honor of 

1/9 

Agonalia

Janus, god of beginnings and the god of gates and doorways

1/11, 1/15

Carmenta 

The fortune-telling goddess Carmenta

2/13 - 2/21 

Parentalia 

The dead

2/15

Lupercalia

The She-wolf that mothered Romulus and Remus (Lupercus or Faunus)

2/17 

Quirinalia

Romulus

2/21 

Feralia 

The Nether Gods

2/22 

Caristia 

Family solidarity

2/23

Terminalia 

Terminus, God of boundaries

2/24*  

Regifugium

The flight of the last Etruscan King

Intercalis 26

Equirria

Mars (this was a horse race)

3/1 

Matronalia 

Lucina, the goddess of childbirth

3/14

Equirria 

Mars (another horse race)

3/15 

Feast of Anna Perenna

Anna Perenna, the goddess who was the personification of the Roman year

3/17

Liberalia

Liber and Libera, god and goddess of fertility

3/17

Agnolia

Mars, god of war

3/19 - 3/23

Quinquatrus

Minerva (her birthday was celebrated on the first day)

4/4 - 4/10 

Ludi Magalenses

Cybele, the Great Mother

4/15

Fordicidia 

Tellus, an earth goddess

4/12 - 4/19

Ludi Ceriales

Ceres

4/19 

Cerialia

Ceres, Liber, Libera

4/21

Parilia 

Pales, the deity of shepherds and sheep (the birthday of Rome)

4/23

Vinalia 

Jupiter and Venus

4/25

Robigalia 

Robigus, god of mildew and grain rust

4/28-5/3

Ludi Florales

Flora, the goddess of flowers

5/9, 5/11, 5/13 

Lemuria

Lemures (aka Larvae), evil spirits that haunt houses

5/21

Agonalia 

Vediovis (aka Vedius), Jupiter's counterpart in the underworld

5/23 

Tubilustrium

Vulcan, god of fire

6/7

Ludi Piscatores 

Fishing (held in Trastevere)

6/9

Vestalia

Vesta (became a holiday for bakers and millers)

6/11

Matralia

Mater Matuta, goddess of growth and childbirth

7/5

Poplifugia

Jupiter (was held in the Campus Martius)

7/6 - 7/13

Ludi Apollinares

Apollo

7/20 - 7/30

Ludi Victoriae Caesaris

Caesar's victories (games originated in 46 BC)

7/19, 7/21

Lucaria

???

7/23 

Neptunalia 

Neptune

7/25

Furrinalia

Furrina, the goddess of springs

8/17 

Portunalia

Portunus, god who protected doors and harbors

8/19

Vinalia

Jupiter and Venus

8/21

Consualia

Consus, god of the granary

8/23

Volcanalia

Vulcan

8/25

Opiconsivia

Ops Consiva, goddess of abundance

8/27 

Volturnalia

Volturnus (might have been a river or wind god), father of the water deity Juturna

9/4-9/19 

Ludi Romani

Jupiter (aka the Roman Games)

10/11 

Meditrinalia 

Jupiter

10/13

Fontinalia

 Fons (aka Fontus), god of springs

10/15 

Equirria

Chariot race in the Campus Martius and the slaughter of the October Horse

10/19 

Armilustrium

Mars

11/4 - 11/17

Ludi Plebei 

Jupiter (held in the Circus Flaminia in the Campus Martius)

12/11 

Agonalia

Sol Indiges, the sun god

12/15

Consualia

Consus

12/17 - 12/18

Saturnalia

Saturn

12/19

Opalia 

Ops

12/21 

Divalia

Angerona, goddess of secrecy, gave relief from pain and worry

 

*If there was an intercalary month (See Calendar), the Regifugium would be held six days before the Kalendae of Martius in the intercalary month

 

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 ADDITIONAL NOTES
 

  • In addition to the above feasts and holidays, there were movable feasts (Feriae Conceptivae) whose dates were announced each year by the appropriate priestly or governmental authority. The major Feriae Conceptivae were:
     
    • the Feriae Latinae (three or four days fixed by the consuls as they took office for the year)
       
    • The Compitalia, a one day long feast set in late December early January to celebrate the end of the corn-sowing (it was celebrated primarily on country estates)
       
    • Sementivae which was two days in January (chosen by the Pontiffs) separated by a seven-day interval
       
    • Fornacalia, the Feast of the Ovens, a day in February
       
    • Pagnalia which was one day selected by the Magister Pagni
       
    • Ambarvalia which was three days in May
       
    • Argurium Canarium which was one day selected when the corn was ripe for harvest by the Augurs for the sacrifice of a red dog
       
    • the Amburbiim on 2 February
       
    • Florifertum one day in late April or Early May
       
  • There were still other festivals (Feriae Imperativae), days of supplication (Supplicationes), approved by the Senate, for which the Consuls fixed as days for offerings to be made to the gods. These could be intercession days in the case of a public calamity or tragedy, or they could be days of Thanksgiving for some good fortune which had occurred
     
  • The Agonalia was held three times a year and was dedicated to a different god each time
     
  • The Feast of Anna Perenna was a city-wide holiday for the people of Rome. On the river bank just north of Rome, near the Porta del Popolo, people would lay about promiscuously in the open or in tents, drinking heavily (one glass for every further year of life that was desired) and in the evening would, in procession, march back to the city
     
  • A feature of the Ludi Florales (aka the Floralia) was a strip tease performance by prostitutes
     
  • The Lucaria was celebrated in a large grove between the Via Salaria and the Tiber. It meant little to Romans of the Late Republic.
     
  • During the Ludi Victoriae Caesaris soon after Caesar's death in 44 BC, an unexpected comet (sidus Julium) appeared and was interpreted as confirmation of Caesar's becoming a god
     
  • Feast of the Lupercalia
     
    • Priests of the Luperci covered themselves with wolfskins so that they would appear as wolves. Otherwise they were half-naked.
       
    • The Luperci ran around the streets, striking the hands of any women whom they encountered with their leather thongs, which were supposed to engender fertility.
       
  • Matronalia was a sort of Morther's Day. On this festival day, the women of the household could look forward to receiving presents from their relatives and friends
     
  • Quinquatrus was a holiday for those who owed particular dedication to Minerva: school children, teachers, doctors, artisans, dry cleaners, and dyers.
     
  • Saturnalia was the greatest of all the annual holidays and in the Late Republic it lasted two days
     
    • For the whole festival, legal restrictions were relaxed so that everyone, including children and slaves, could gamble without being punished
       
    • The toga was discarded for the more comfortable synthesis, the dinner suit, and men wore the felt cap, pilleum, the mark of freedom
       
    • During this feast, slaves were exempt from punishment
       
    • During this festival, the roles of master and slaves were reversed
       
      • Either the master and his household dined with the slaves or the slaves dined in the master's dining room
         
      • The dice were thrown to see which member of the household would be "Saturnalian King" for the duration of the festival
         
        • Every member had to obey his instructions
           
    • After dinner each night, there was drinking, clowning, and merriment, degenerating sometimes into wild horseplay
       
  • The days before and after Vestalia were consecrated to Vesta. On June 7, the inner sanctum of the temple of Vesta was opened to women and it stayed open to them until June 15.
     
  • Three times a year, on the 26th of the intercalated month (See Roman Calendar), on March 14th, and on October 15th, the Equirria was held in honor of Mars in the Campus Martius, or if there were floods, on the Caelian. On October 15th the outer horse of the winner's pair was killed (The October Horse) and its tail cut off. The tail was carried to the Regia to drip blood on its hearth

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Sunday, January 20, 2008