Thursday, February 06, 2014


5 February, marks the official first day of spring in the ancient Roman calendar – and renewal; renewal of agricultural pursuits, a purging of previous errors, omissions and mistakes, and cleaning karmic slates to start the New Year fresh. Dies natalis was also observed today on the Capitoline Hill in the Temple of Concordia.

Parentalia, the essence of expiation and rebirth, begins on the ides – Thursday, 13 February, with a Vestal officiating at the Tomb of Tarpeia, and concluding on Friday, 21 February, with Feralia—midnight rituals.  Bookended between these two state-sponsored observances, Parentalia was very much a private, family affair – with the paterfamilias honoring the family Lares and household gods.  Garlands of flowers, gifts of wheat, bread and wine – communal meals inviting the honored dead were held at homes, holy sites and ancestral tombs, to acknowledge the invisible but very real ancestral bonds that survive death. Lupercalia  - on the 15th of February provided a break from appeasing the benevolent ancestral dead, with public fertility rituals (In case the renewed communion with the spirit world raised any unintended consequences, rubbing the body all over with puppies would calm things down).

As the end of Paternalia approached, the duties of the paterfamilias became darker, and the ceremonies increasingly focus on appeasing, placating and even exorcising the more malevolent aspects of his Manes.  On the 21st, Feralia demanded dark rites placating the di inferni gods below.

Caristia or Cara Cognatio, on 22 February, allowed for cleansing rituals, and a family feast celebrating love, reconciliation and forgiveness.  Friends who became alienated during the previous year would reunite and forgive offenses, real or imagined.

Terminalia, on Sunday, 23 February allows the city to enter the new year purified, and concentrate on the affairs of the living.

24 Feb Regifugium (the Flight of the King) – commemorated the end of monarchy and birth of the Republic (a final cleansing ceremony – of sorts).


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