rōma  aeterna latīna ubīque


Roman Festival Days || diēs fāstī rōmānī


Moveable Festivals by Approximate Starting Date

Fixed Holidays by Date

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December


January 1

Beginning in 153 B.C.E., this day marked the day the consuls began serving their terms, and thus the first day of the year. Small gifts were exchanged, traditionally lamps intended to light the way through the upcoming year. A pontifex minor and the Rex Sacrorum offered a sacrifice to Juno and Janus at the Curia, and the Regina Sacrorum offered a sacrifice to Juno at the Regia. Two other festivals were held on this day, for Vediovis and Aesculapius. The festival of Vediovis celebrated an ancient Etruscan or Latin deity whose exact function was lost by Roman times. He was possibly the subterranean counterpart of Jupiter, whose earthquakes and volcanoes mirrored Jupiter's thunder and lightning; however he was also at times identified with Apollo or as a younger version of Jupiter himself. The festival of Aesculapius celebrated the demigod of healing and medicine for prosperity in the new year. The Compitalia was also held around this time (see Movable Festivals).

January 3

The festival of Pax, the goddess of peace, was held on this day.

January 5

This day marked the anniversary of the shrine of Vica Pota, a goddess of victory eventually surpassed by Victoria, at Rome. The Compitalia was also held around this time (see Movable Festivals).

January 9

The Agonalia of January was held on this day. A ram was sacrificed to Janus by the Rex Sacrorum at the Regia. Other Agonaliae were held on March 17, May 21, and December 11.

January 11

The Juturnalia, a festival to Juturna, was held on this day. Juturna was the goddess of fountains, springs, and prophetic waters, and on this day those who maintained Rome's water system celebrated the anniversary of her temple at the Aqua Virgo aqueduct on the Campus Martius.

January 11, 15

These days were the first day of the Carementalia, a two-day festival dedicated to Carmentis, a prophet who became deified as the goddess of childbirth. The Flamen Carmentalis and the ponifices made a sacrifice to the goddess at her shrine next to the Porta Carmentalis.

January 13

The Ides of January, like all Ides, were sacred to Jupiter. A white ewe was sacrificed to him by the Flamen Dialis.

January 17

A minor festival to Felicitas, the goddess of good fortune, was held on his day.

February 1

This day was the festival of Juno Sospita, dedicated to Juno as the protector of Rome.

February 5

This day was the anniversary of the Temple of Concordia, the goddess of harmony and agreement.

February 5-17

The Fornacalia was held in this period. It was a festival dedicated to Rome's fornaces, ovens used in the production of bread.

February 13

This day was the Ides of February, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

February 13-21

The Parentalia, a festival honoring the manes, or ancestral spirits, was observed at this time. Most of the Parentalia was intended for private remembrance of the dead, and accordingly temples were closed, marriages could not take place, and magistrates didn't hear cases. People made offerings of wine, bread, a sprinkling of salt, or flowers at their ancestors' tombs. Also on this day the festival of Faunus, the satyr god of shepherds and flocks, was held in Rome.

February 15

On this day was the Lupercalia, an ancient pastoral festival. Faunus and Inuus, satyr gods who watched over shepherds and their flocks, were often invoked as the patrons of the Lupercalia, but the festival was so ancient even the Romans seem to have been unsure which god they were worshiping. By the Augustan period it was often dedicated to Lupercus, a god seemingly created just for the festival. In the Lupercalia worshipers gathered at a cave known as Lupercal on the Palatine Hill, the same cave where Romulus and Remus were believed to have been raised by a wolf. Special priests known as luperci would sacrifice goats and a dog at the cave, and smear blood from the sacrifices on two youths from noble families. The youths, accompanied by some magistrates and the luperci, who adorned themselves with the skins of the sacrifices, would then run around the Palatine Hill tracing the original city boundary of Rome. They would slap anyone they came across with strips of the sacrifices' skin, splattering them with blood and thus ensuring their fertility. The festival was very popular and full of celebration.

February 17

On this day the Quirinalia, a festival honoring a mysterious ancient god known as Quirinus, was held. Quirinus was probably originally a Sabine god, but came to represent the deified form of either Romulus or Aeneas and the collective spirit of the Roman people, and thus was important in ancestor worship. His name derives from the collective name for the seven hills of Rome, the Quirinal.

February 21

This day was the last day of the Paternalia, a festival of the dead (see February 13), and known as the Feralia. While most of the Paternalia was used for private ancestor worship, on this day the worship was made public. Offerings of food were carried to the tombs for use by the deceased. Temples were reopened at noon, after having been closed for the duration of the Paternalia.

February 22

On this day the festival of Carista, also known as Cara Cognatio, was held. This festival celebrated the familial ties, and was generally presided over by the father of the family. Family quarrels were settled, a family feast was held, and offerings were made to the family lares.

February 23

The Terminalia, a festival worshiping Terminus, the god of boundary stones, was observed on this day. Feasts and sacrifices were held at selected boundary stones, which would be adorned with garlands, by the owners of the fields which the stones separated. This festival also acted somewhat as the start of the ancient end of the year festivities, as February 28th was originally the last day of the year.

February 24

On this day was the Regifugium, a day observed as something of an independence day for Rome. The Regifugium was traditionally considered to be the anniversary of the expulsion of the last king of Rome and the founding of the Republic, though the true origins of the festival were likely something different. On this day the Rex Sacrorum would host a public ceremony and perform sacred rites in the Forum.

February 27

The Equirria, a horse racing festival dedicated to Mars, was held on this day in the Campus Martius, or on the Caelian Hill if the Campus was flooded. This festival was said to have been begun by Romulus himself, used for heralding the coming arrival of the new year, which in the original Roman calendar began on March 1. In addition to the horse racing, Romans also participated in a procession around the city boundaries, ending with a public sacrifice and feast, on this day. Another Equirria was held on March 14.

March 1

The first of March was the original New Year's Day and accordingly the first day of Spring in the original agricultural Roman calendar in use before the calendar reforms of 153 B.C.E. Also on this day was the Matronalia, a festival dedicated to Juno Lucina, who was the patron goddess of women, marriage, and childbirth. Women observing the festival left their hair hanging freely and carried nor wore nothing with knots on it, symbolizing an openness with nothing to impede a safe and easy childbirth. Men traditionally prayed for the wellbeing of their wives, and also presented their wives and other friends and family members with presents. There was a general festive atmosphere to the day, and female slaves were presented with feasts by their mistresses as part of the celebration. The sacred fire of Vesta was also attended by the Vestal Virgins on this day, as it was a day of renewal.

March 1-24

Most of March was devoted to the festival of Mars, celebrating both his war and agriculture attributes. Laurels, sacred to Mars, were placed on the houses of the flamines and certain public buildings. On the 1st, 9th, and 23rd of the month the twenty-four salii, priests of Mars, performed ritual dances through the streets and sang the Carme Saliare, dressed in traditional archaic military garb and carrying the sacred shields of Mars in a procession. After the parade the salii hosted a massive feast.

March 7

A festival of Vediovis was held on this day, celebrating an ancient Etruscan or Latin deity whose exact function was lost by Roman times. He was possibly the subterranean counterpart of Jupiter, whose earthquakes and volcanoes mirrored Jupiter's thunder and lightning; however he was also at times identified with Apollo or as a younger version of Jupiter himself.

March 14

The Equirria, a horse racing festival dedicated to Mars, was held on this day in the Campus Martius, or on the Caelian Hill if the Campus was flooded. This festival was said to have been begun by Romulus himself, used for heralding the coming arrival of the new year, which in the original Roman calendar began on March 1. In addition to the horse racing, Romans also participated in a procession around the city boundaries, ending with a public sacrifice and feast, on this day. There is also a record of a festival of Mamuralia being held on this day, but it is unclear if this was a separate festival dedicated to Mamurius Veturius, the legendary maker of Mars' sacred shields, or another name for this Equirria. Another Equirria was held on February 27.

March 15

The festival of Anna Perenna was held on this day. Anna Perenna was apparently a personification of the year and the passage of time, portrayed as an old woman. Her festival served as something of a new years’ celebration under the original Roman calendar in which March was the first month of the year. There was much revelry and celebration, in which people drank as many cups as wine as the number of years they hoped to live. Public and private sacrifices were made to ensure prosperity in the upcoming year. This day was also the Ides of March, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

March 16-17

On these days a procession traveled between the shrines of the argei, human-shaped reed figures representing bound men, in a ritual preparation for Argeis later in the year (see May 14).

March 17

The Liberalia, the festival of Liber Pater and his consort Libera, was held on this day. Originally only Liber Pater, a god of fertility and wine associated with Bacchus, was celebrated. His priestesses, old women, would sacrifice cakes of oil and honey to him. Later Libera was added as Liber Pater's female counterpart, each representing their respective genders' seed. A large phallus was brought to the countryside to protect the crops, promoting fertility and warding off evil. A wreath was later placed on the phallus by a virtuous matron. The Agonalia of March was also held on this day. A ram was sacrificed to Janus by the Rex Sacrorum at the Regia. This Agonalia was traditionally the day on which young boys, after having reached the appropriate age, assumed the toga virilis, or toga of manhood. Other Agonaliae were held on January 9, May 21, and December 11.

March 19

A festival of Minerva, goddess of wisdom and patron of doctors, teachers, artist, craftsmen, and the like, was also held on this day.

March 19-23

This period was the Greater Quinquartus. The first day was the Quinquartus itself, originally a standalone holiday for Mars, but later considered the start of the five day festival. The twenty-four salii, priests of Mars, danced before the pontifices and the tribuni celerum, representatives of the army, and the sacred shields of Mars and tubae, sacred trumpets used in many public ceremonies such as sacrifices, funerals, and games, were purified. The Greater Quinquartus marked the final days of the festival of Mars (see March 1), and a symbolic preparation for upcoming military endeavors. The final day of the Greater Quiquartus was the Tubilustrium, dedicated to the purification of the tubae. An ewe was sacrificed to purify the trumpets, and the salii performed ritual dances through the streets and sang the Carme Saliare, dressed in traditional archaic military garb and carrying the sacred shields of Mars in a procession. After the parade the salii hosted a massive feast.

March 24

This day was known as the Quando Rex Comitavit, though what exactly this holiday was is unknown.

March 31

The festival of Luna, goddess of the moon, was held on this day.

April 1

On this day the Veneralia, the festival of Venus Verticordia, was held. It was a day for women to petition for help from Venus in their love lives. Women would also bathe in the men’s baths on this day, while wearing myrtle wreaths. The goddess Fortuna Virilis was also worshiped on this day, jewelry adorning her statues was ritually cleaned and she was offered sacrifices of flowers and incense to ensure the physical imperfections of her female worshipers would be concealed while in the bathhouses.

April 4-10

The Megalesia, a seven day festival dedicated to Cybele, an Eastern earth-mother goddess also known as Magna Mater, was celebrated at this time. Roman state-sanctioned worship of Cybele began in 203 B.C.E., after the discovery of a prophecy that an enemy who brought war into Italy could be conquered if Rome would adopt the Eastern goddess. As Rome was fighting the Second Punic War at the time and had only shortly before expelled Hannibal, they enacted the prophecy to ensure success against Carthage. The Megalesia survived as a commemoration of the event. The festival was mostly observed through games, spectacles, and theatrical performances at the Circus Maximus, though on the first day alone massive feasts were hosted by the city's aristocrats. The start of the celebration was marked by the sacrifice of the moretum, a dish of herbs, by the Praetor or an aedile. The galii, eunuch priests of Cybele, then carried her crowned image through the city, dancing and accompanied by a variety of instruments. As part of the procession the galii beat themselves bloody, and because of the strangeness of their ritual were barred from having citizenship. The final day of the Megalesia was marked by a procession of golden statues of many of the major gods around the Circus Maximus, followed by chariot races.

April 5

On this day was a festival to Fortuna Publica, the personification of the luck and prosperity of the Roman people.

April 12-19

This period was the Cerialia, an eight-day festival devoted to Ceres, the goddess of grain. Offerings of cakes, salt, incense, milk, wine, and honey were given to Ceres. In rural areas, the offerings were carried around the fields three times before being presented to the goddess. The Cerialia was observed more by the lower classes than by the aristocracy. The Cerialia culminated on its final day with chariot races held in the Circus Maximus, presided over by the Plebian aediles. As part of the ritual celebrations, foxes with burning brands tied to their tails were released into the Circus.

April 13

This day was the Ides of April, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter. Festivals of Jupiter Victor, Jupiter Invictus, and Jupiter Libertator were held on this day.

April 15

The Fordicidia, a fertility festival held to honor the earth goddess Tellus, was held on this day. Thirty-one pregnant cows were sacrificed, one in a temple in each of Rome's thirty wards, plus an additional cow for the Capitol region. The unborn calves were then burned, in order to pass the essence of fertility to the earth itself. The ashes of the calves were given to the Vestal Virgins, for later use in the Parilia (see April 21).

April 21

On this day the Parilia, the shepherd-honoring festival of Pales, an obscure agricultural god was held. The gender and exact nature of Pales was not certain, some mentions treat him or her as a dual deity. Sheep pens were cleaned and decorated with greenery and wreaths placed at their entrances. A bonfire was made of olive and pine branches, onto which laurel branches were thrown. The crackling of the laurel branches as they burned was taken as a good open. Sulfur was also burned on the bonfire, and the sheep were led through the sulfur-tinged smoke to purify them. After their sheep were purified, the shepherds made offerings of cakes, millet, and milk to Pales. A special prayer was then repeated four times while facing east, to ensure the safety and prosperity of the shepherd and his flock. The shepherd would then wash his hands in the morning dew, drink warm milk or wine, and leap through the bonfire. In Rome itself, the celebration was led by the Rex Sacrorum, and the ashes from the Cerialia (see April 12) were added to the bonfire before the leaping of the shepherds. This day was also the anniversary of the traditional date on which Romulus founded Rome.

April 23

The first of two festivals celebrating wine production, the Vinalia Priora, was held on this day. Wine jars from the previous year were opened for the first time, and the first of the wine had to be given to Jupiter in a libation before people could drink any. Later Venus came to be celebrated along with Jupiter on this day.

April 25

The Robigalia, a festival to appease Robigus, the god of mildew and grain rust, took place on this day. The Flamen Quirinalis presided over the festivities, in which a red dog and a sheep were sacrificed to Robigus and offerings of wine and incense were made. Prayers were then said to protect the crops.

April 28-May 3

A six-day spring festival known as the Floralia spanned these two months. The festival was dedicated to Flora, the goddess of flowers and spring. The festivities were administrated by the Plebian aediles, and began with theatrical performances building to the games at the end of the festival. Prior to the games, rabbits and goats, both symbols of fertility, were released into the Circus. For the duration of the festival, brightly colored clothes were worn, and beans and lupins, symbols of fertility, were thrown into the crowds.

May 1

This day was considered sacred to Maia, an earth goddess. The Flamen Volcanalis sacrificed a pregnant sow for the goddess. The day was also the anniversary of the temple of Bona Dea, who presided over fertility, virginity, and women. To mark the anniversary women gathered at the temple, made offerings of wine, and adorned the head of the goddess' statue with vine leaves. A sow, known as the damium, was sacrificed by the priestess of Bona Dea, the Damniatrix. The lares praestites, the spirits who were believed to ensure the well-being of the state, were also celebrated on this day.

May 9, 11, 13

The Lemuriae were held on these day to appease the lemures, angry household spirits of those who had died violent or unnatural deaths. The head of the household got up at midnight, washed his hands in pure water, and walked around the house barefoot and wearing no knots, buckles, or other fastening apparatuses while making the mano fico sign - a fist with the thumb protruding between the middle and index fingers. While walking he spat out or tossed over his shoulder nine black beans as offerings to the lemures, who would consume the beans instead of the house's residents, and said the incantation "haec ego mitto his redimo meque meosque fabis." - "With these beans I give I redeem me and mine." Once all nine beans had been offered the head of the household again washed his hands in pure water, banged two bronze vessels together, and repeated nine times "Manes exite paternae." - "Spirits of my father, be gone." Similar public ceremonies meant to protect the state as a whole accompanied the private ceremonies.

May 11

On this day, possibly as part of the Lemuria celebration, sacrifices were made to Mania, a goddess of death, and mother of the lares.

May 14

On this day the Vestal Virgins, pontifices, the Praetor, and other important figures carried the thirty argei (see March 16-17), human-shaped reed figures representing bound men, in a counter-clockwise procession around the city for the Argeis. After the procession the argei were thrown from the Bridge of Sublicius into the Tiber.

May 15

This day was considered sacred to Maia, an earth goddess. The Flamen Volcanalis sacrificed a pregnant sow for the goddess. This day was also the Ides of May, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter. There was accordingly a festival of Jupiter on this day, and also a major festival to Mercury. Merchants, who Mercury was the patron god of, drew water from the Aqua Mercurii and sprinkled it on themselves and their goods.

May 21

The Agonalia of May was also held on this day. A ram was sacrificed to Janus by the Rex Sacrorum at the Regia. Other Agonaliae were held on January 9, March 17, and December 11.

May 23

Another Tubilustrium was held on this day, the first having been on March 23. This day was dedicated to the purification of the tubae, sacred trumpets used in many public ceremonies such as sacrifices, funerals, and games. An ewe was sacrificed to purify the trumpets, and the twenty-four salii, priests of Mars, performed ritual dances through the streets and sang the Carme Saliare, dressed in traditional archaic military garb and carrying the sacred shields of Mars in a procession. After the parade the salii hosted a massive feast.

May 25

The festival of Fortuna, goddess of fate, chance, and fortune, was held on this day.

June 1

On this day were festivals to Mars, it being the anniversary of his temple near the Porta Capena, and Juno Moneta, the aspect of Juno who warned of upcoming disasters. The day was also sacred to the Tempestates, goddesses of weather and storms, and Carna, goddess of hinges and bodily health. Prayers and offerings of bean-meal and bacon fat were made to Carna to ensure the health of the liver, heart, and other internal organs.

June 3

On this day a festival was held for Bellona, sister of Mars and goddess of war.

June 4

A festival to Hercules the Great Custodian was held on this day.

June 5

A festival was held on this day for Dius Fidius, the personification of divine faith who was associated with oaths and treaties.

June 7

This day was sacred to Tiberinus, god of the river Tiber. Fishermen participated in games on this day, presided over by the Praetor Urbanis. Also on this day the inner sanctum of the temple of Vesta, the penus vestae, was opened up in preparation for the upcoming Vestalia (see June 9).

June 8

On this day a festival for Mens, goddess of the mind, was held.

June 9

The Vestalia, the festival of Vesta, virgin goddess of the hearth and domestic bliss, was held on this day. The Vestal Virgins sang and made prayers for the state and individual households, and poured libations of wine onto the ground. Vestal Virgins also prepared sacred salted cakes, molae salsae, for Vesta on this day using water from her sacred spring, which was forbidden to be set on the ground, salt from specially collected brine, and grains collected on May 7, 9, or 11, which were mixed with the salt before the grain was made into flour. Common women wishing to make an offering to Vesta simply brought regular food on a platter to her temple while barefoot. Only women and the Pontifex Maximus were allowed in Vesta's temple. Bakers and millers also celebrated this day, and adorned their instruments and work animals with violets and small loaves of bread.

June 11

The Matralia, the festival of mothers, was held on this day in honor of the goddess Mater Matuta, who presided over growth, childbirth, motherhood, and the raising of children. Mothers were honored by their husbands and children, and themselves prayed for their children and the children of their siblings. Statues of Mater Matuta were decorated on this day, but could only be done so by wives in their first marriage. Female slaves were forbidden from entering the temple of Mater Matuta unless they were first ritually beaten, either as a fertility right or as a warning to other female slaves not to entice their masters. Sacred cakes called testuacia, which had been baked in primitive earthenware pots called testua, were also offered.

June 13

On this day was a festival for Jupiter Invictus. This was also the Ides of June, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

June 13-15

This period was the three-day celebration of the Lesser Quinquatrus, a festival honoring the tibicines, flute players who played at religious celebrations to overwhelm any negative noises that might taint the festivities, and their patron goddess Minerva. The tibicines would wander the city for the duration of the festival, wearing masks and festive clothes, and playing music. The tibicines would then gather at Minerva's temple and make their way to the temple of Jupiter, where they would be given a feast.

June 15

On this day, known as the Quando Stercus Delatum - when the waste is thrown out - the buildup from the past week of celebrations was ceremoniously removed from the temple of Vesta and thrown into the Tiber as a symbolic purification. The doors of the temple of Vesta's inner sanctum were then again closed, having been open since the previous week (see June 7).

June 19

A festival to Minerva, as the goddess of crafts and trade guilds, was held on this day.

June 20

On this day a festival was held for Summanus, an aspect, or perhaps a counterpart, of Jupiter responsible for nighttime thunder and lightning. Two black castrated male sheep were sacrificed to him, along with cakes made in the shape of wheels. This festival dwindled in popularity by the time of the late republic.

June 24

The festival of Fors Fortuna, goddess of good fortune, was held on this day. The festival was especially celebrated by florists and gardeners. People attended both on foot and in boats adorned with flowers. Gardeners brought their produce to market and sang solemn prayers to Fors Fortuna.

June 25

Every five years the Taurian Games were held on this day to appease the gods of the underworld and prevent them from unleashing plagues. The games included horse races and the sacrifice of bulls.

June 27

A festival was held to Jupiter Stator, the aspect of Jupiter responsible for inspiring warriors to hold their ground, on this day. Twenty-seven maidens paraded through the city while singing a hymn to Juno. There were also festivals to the lares, household spirits, on this day.

June 29

This day was sacred to the peaceful aspects Hercules and the nine Muses. Educated men offered their respects to them.

July 1

A festival was held on this day for Felicitas, an aspect of Juno as the goddess of happiness and good fortune.

July 5

The Poplifugia, an ancient festival of obscure meaning even to the Romans, was held on this day. The name of the festival means "the flight of the people," and may commemorate the events of the Gallic sacking of the city in 390 B.C.E. The darker aspects of Jupiter were worshiped as part of the celebration.

July 6-13

The games of Apollo were observed on these days. The games were originally only held only on July 13, instituted during the second Punic War as a prophecy from the Sibylline Books. According to legend on the first observance of the games Rome was suddenly invaded, but before the Romans could begin to fight back arrows and darts fell from the sky, obliterating the invaders and allowing the Romans to return to the celebration. After a plague four years after the war, the games were reinstated as an annual celebration to please Apollo. The games were so popular they were continually expanded backwards until, by the time of the late Republic, they began on this day. Observers of the celebrations wore garlands and feasted in their atriums, and the matriarch of the household made prayers to Apollo. The public games were presided over by the Praetor Urbanis, two days of the games were devoted to horse racing and beast hunts in the Circus Maximus, the rest were used for performances and plays. On the final day two white female goats were sacrificed to Apollo and a cow was sacrificed to Latona, mother of Apollo, overseen by the Quindecemviri Sacris Faciundis, the Fifteen Men of the Sacred Deeds. All the sacrificed animals had their horns gilded with gold.

July 7

This day was known as the Nonae Caprotinae, the Nones of the Wild Fig. Feasts and picnics were held outdoors, and offerings of fig juice were made to Juno by women under wild fig trees. The day was used to honor women, particularly serving women. According to legend, after the sack of Rome by the Gauls in 390 B.C.E., neighboring Latin tribes demanded the weakened city surrender their women. A serving girl named Philotis came up with a plan in which serving women would be given dressed as free women. While the Latins slept, the serving women hid the weapons of their captors. Philotis then lit a fig tree on fire as a signal to the Roman army, which easily overtook the sleeping and disarmed Latins and rescued the women. As a commemoration of this event the serving women were given a feast on this day, and engaged in mock battles with each other. Another festival to the Pales was also held on this day, this one specifically dedicated to "the two Pales," emphasizing the god or goddess' dualistic nature (see April 21).

July 8

This day hosted festivities dedicated to Vitula, the goddess of joy and celebration. This day was possibly celebrating Rome's triumph over the numerous threats it had overcome in the preceding days in 390 B.C.E. (see July 5, 7).

July 15

This day was the Ides of July, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

July 17

Festivals to Honos, god of honor and military justice, Virtus, god of bravery and military strength, and Victoria, goddess of victory, were held on this day.

July 19

The Lucaria was held on this day and July 21, in a wooded area between the Tiber and the Via Salaria. The exact meaning of the festival has been lost, but it seems to commemorate where the Romans sought refuge while the Gauls overran and sacked their city in 390 B.C.E.

July 20-30

During the Empire Caesar's Victory Games were held at the end of July. The games celebrated Caesar's military successes, and also worshiped Victoria, goddess of victory.

July 21

The Lucaria was held on July 19 and on this day, in a wooded area between the Tiber and the Via Salaria. The exact meaning of the festival has been lost, but it seems to commemorate where the Romans sought refuge while the Gauls overran and sacked their city in 390 B.C.E.

July 22

A festival to Concordia, goddess of harmony, was held on this day.

July 23-24

On these days the Neptunalia, a festival to Neptune, was held to stave off drought and encourage rain for the crops. Romans retreated to rural regions and built huts called tabernaculi out of branches and leaves. They would then picnic in the shade of these tabernaculi, and drink wine and spring water to alleviate the summer heat. They would likely camp out in the field overnight, as festivities spilled over into two days.

July 25

The Furrinalia was held on this day for the goddess Furrina, an earth-mother goddess and the wife of Neptune. Romans returning from the Neptunalia (see July 23) would continue their celebrations in the city. They would feast and continue to drink wine and spring water.

July 30

A festival was held on this day for Fortuna Huiusque, an aspect of the goddess Fortuna dealing with public fortune.

August 1

Festivals were held on this day for Spes, goddess of hope, and Victoria, goddess of victory.

August 5

A festival to Salus, goddess of good fortune and health, was held on this day.

August 9

The festival of Sol Indiges, the embodiment of the sun, was held on this day. Public sacrifices of animals were made on the Quirinal Hill and used to present a feast.

August 12

Festivals for Hercules Invictus and Venus Victrix were held on this day. In Hercules' festival, oxen were sacrificed publicly then and used in a feast, an event women were forbidden from attending.

August 13

This day hosted many festivals, some to major deities such as Diana and Hercules Invictus. Cow horns, a symbol of Hercules, were hung on Diana's temple during the day to honor both gods. In the evening, women who believed their prayers to Diana had been answered joined together in a torchlight procession to the sacred Grove of Diana near Aricia. Other festivals on this day honored several lesser deities, Vertumnus, the god of seasons and plant growth, Fortuna Equestris, the aspect of Fortuna that brought fortune to the Equestrian class, Castor and Pollux, twins sons of Zeus also known as the Gemini, the Camenae, water nymphs who lived in springs and gave advise and prophecies, and Flora, goddess of flowers and spring. This day was also the Ides of August, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

August 17

The Portunalia, the festival of Portunus, was held on this day. Portunus was the god of keys and locks, and later came to also be associated with harbors. For his festival, old keys were tossed into fires as an offering and for good luck. There was also a festival for Janus on this day, which, as Janus was the god of doors and passageways, was likely connected with Portunus' festival in some way.

August 19

The Vinalia Rustica, the second wine festival, was held on this day (see April 23). In this Vinalia the Flamen Dialis pulled the first grapes off the vine to signal the start of the wine-making season.

August 21

On this day the first Consualia was held, the second being on December 15. The Consualia was dedicated to Consus, god of grain preservation and storage. Like grain storage vaults, Consus' temple was underground, and was only unearthed on the Consualia. Chariot races were held in the Circus Maximus, with the chariots pulled by the usual horses, and also mules, as both were the sacred animals of Consus. As part of the celebration the Rex Sacrorum, dressed in his full ceremonial garb, rode a chariot one lap around the Circus. Horses and mules were forbidden to work on this day, and were adorned with flowers.

August 23

The Volcanalia, the festival of Vulcan, was held on this day. Large bonfires and feasts were held outside the city, and fish and assorted small animals were tossed into the fires alive to honor the god. The rural fires were allowed to burn out naturally, a process that usually stretched until the next day. As part of the Volcanalia there were also festivities celebrating Maia and Hora, consorts of Vulcan, the nymphs, and Ops, a fertility and earth-mother goddess associated with abundance. The connection of the latter two deities to Vulcan is unknown.

August 24

A festival to Luna, the embodiment of the moon, was held on this day. Also on this day the large stone lid known as the Lapis Manalis, the Stone of the Underworld, was removed from the Mundus, a sacred pit containing an effigy of the sky and believed to be the portal to the underworld. Removing the stone allowed the spirits of the dead access to the surface world, and accordingly holy and public business was banned for the day. The Lapis Manalis was similarly removed on October 5 and November 8.

August 25

The festival of Ops, the Opiconsivia, took place on this day. Ops was an ancient fertility and earth-mother goddess connected to riches and abundance, particularly of crops. Worshipers prayed to Ops by sitting with their hands on the ground, as Ops was believed to dwell underground. For the festival the Vestal Virgins opened a sacred room in Ops' temple and performed secret rites with the objects therein to ensure the fertility of the earth. Another festival for Ops, the Opalia, was held December 19.

August 27

The Volturnalia, the festival of Volturnus, god of fountains and waters, particularly the Tiber, was held on this day. Games, wine drinking, and feasts were conducted on this day to honor both Volturnus and his daughter Juturna, a water goddess connected to a spring in Latium and a pool near the temple of Vesta.

August 28

A festival was held on this day for both Sol, the embodiment of the sun, and Luna, the embodiment of the moon.

September 1

Festivals were held on this day to two aspects of Jupiter, Jupiter Tonans and Jupiter Liber, and his wife Juno Regina.

September 5

A festival to Jupiter Stator was held on this day to commemorate when Jupiter helped Romulus stop an invasion by the Sabines.

September 5-19

In this period the Roman, or Great, Games, dedicated to Jupiter Optimus Maximus, were held. Originally the games were only held on September 13, but were so popular they were continually expanded until they lasted from September 5 to September 19. The games were alleged to have been founded by Tarquinius Priscus in the late seventh or early sixth century B.C.E. to commemorate a major victory over the Latins, though the exact victory the games commemorate was disputed. The games began with a solemn procession, followed by a unique chariot race in which, in Homeric style, each chariot contained a driver and a warrior. The warrior, at the end of the chariot race, would jump out of the chariot and continue running, as if rushing into battle. There were also unique horse riding exhibitions in which each rider also led a second horse beside him, apparently a throwback to an early Roman practice in which equestrians brought two horses to battle. The games also contained the usual assortment of lesser games and plays.

September 13

On this day there were festivals for Jupiter Optimus Maximus, Juno, and Minerva, the Capitoline Trio of gods. This day was also the Ides of September, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

September 23

A festival was held on this day for Apollo.

September 26

On this day a festival for Venus Genetrix was held.

October 1

A festival for Fides, the embodiment of faith and honor, was held on this day. The three chief flamines, the fingers of their right hands wrapped in strips of white cloth, rode in a covered wagon at the head of a procession to the Capitoline Hill, where they conducted sacrifices and a feast. There was also a festival to Juno Sororia on this day.

October 4

A fast was held on this day for Ceres, goddess of plant growth. This was one of the few fasts observed by the Romans, as most holidays were feasts. This fast was originally ordered by the Senate to be held every five years, as the Sibylline books advised, but by the Empire it was observed annually.

October 5

On this day the large stone lid known as the Lapis Manalis, the Stone of the Underworld, was removed from the Mundus, a sacred pit containing an effigy of the sky and believed to be the portal to the underworld. Removing the stone allowed the spirits of the dead access to the surface world, and accordingly holy and public business was banned for the day. The Lapis Manalis was similarly removed on August 24 and November 8.

October 7

Festivals were held on this day for Jupiter Fulgur and Juno Curtis. Sacrifices were made and feasts were given in Campus Martius.

October 9

Several festivals were held on this day, for Genius Publicus, the embodiment of the public spirit, as well as Fausta Felicitas and Venus Victrix.

October 10

A festival for Juno Moneta was held on this day.

October 11

The Meditrinalia was held on this day, and marked the beginning of October's period of festivities. It was a festival concerned heavily with wine, though its exact meaning was unclear. The first wine of the new vintage would be offered to the gods in this festival, then mixed with the old wine and drunk by the revelers. The celebration was connected somehow to Jupiter, though the exact connection was unknown even in the Republic period. In later times the Meditrinalia was dedicated to Meditrina, a goddess of health and healing seemingly invented to give the ceremony purpose. Wine was at the time believed to possess medicinal qualities.

October 13

The Fontinalia, dedicated to Fontus, god of wells and springs, took place on this day. Garlands were thrown into springs and placed around the tops of wells to honor the god.

October 14

A festival was held this day for the penates, originally spirits who looked after storerooms, but later worshiped as looking after the entire household.

October 15

This day was the Ides of October, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter. A festival of Jupiter was held on this day. The Capitoline Games were also held on this day, dedicated to Jupiter Capitolinus. The games were instituted by Camillus in 387 B.C.E. to celebrate the Capitoline Hill being the only part of the city to not fall to the Gallic invasion of that year. The original games expressed an anti-Etruscan sentiment, public criers held auctions for Etruscans, and an old man was dressed in a child's toga and adorned with a bulla like those worn by Etrusacan kings, then publicly ridiculed. By the time of the Empire the original games had declined, and were reinstated in 86 C.E. by Domitian as a Romanized form of the Greek Olympic Games. Every four years contestants came from across the known world to compete in both athletic competitions and public performances such as plays and poetry readings.

October 19

The Armilustrium, dedicated to Mars, was held on this day and primarily concerned the ritual purification of weapons. The army gathered in the Circus Maximus and surrendered their weapons to be purified and stored for winter. The soldiers themselves were garlanded with flowers and the tubae, ritual trumpets, were blown. Other Romans met at the Aventine Hill, bringing with them their personal weapons and armor, and took part in a procession with torches and sacrificial animals. The salii also held a procession with ritual dancing, then purified and stored away Mars' sacred shields and armor until the were needed in the next year (see March 1).

October 26-November 1

Sulla's Victory Games took place at this time. The games celebrated the military successes of the general and dictator.

November 4-17

The Plebian Games, honoring the lower classes and dedicated to Jupiter, were observered in this period.

November 8

On this day the large stone lid known as the Lapis Manalis, the Stone of the Underworld, was removed from the Mundus, a sacred pit containing an effigy of the sky and believed to be the portal to the underworld. Removing the stone allowed the spirits of the dead access to the surface world, and accordingly holy and public business was banned for the day. The Lapis Manalis was similarly removed on August 24 and October 5.

November 13

This day was the Ides of November, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter. A festival to Jupiter, along with festivals to Feronia, a fertility goddess associated with woods and fountains, and Fortuna Primigenia, was held on this day, the only festival day of the month. A feast and public celebrations for the three gods were hosted on the Capitoline Hill.

December 1

Festivals to Neptune and Pietas, embodiment of loyalty and duty, were held on this day.

December 3

The festival of Bona Dea, who presided over fertility, virginity, and women, was held on this day. The festivities were held not at the temple of the goddess, but rather at the house of the senior official then present in the city. The official's wife proceeded over the ceremonies, assisted by the Vestal Virgins. Only women were allowed to attend the ceremony, and even drawings of men and male animals were banned. The words "wine" and "myrtle" were also banned, because of a legendary incident in which Bona Dea was beaten by her father Faunus with a myrtle branch after becoming drunk on wine. The rites conducted in the ceremony were secret, but seem to have been agricultural in nature, and likely included the sacrifice of a sow.

December 5

On this day a festival for Faunus, the satyr god of shepherds and flocks was held. It was observed more in rural areas than in the city, as Faunus was a nature god, and included ritual dancing.

December 8

A festival was held on this day for Tiberinus, the embodiment of the Tiber. Gaia, the primary earth-mother goddess, was also worshiped at this festival because of a lost connection between her and Tiberinus.

December 11

The Agonalia of December was held on this day. A ram was sacrificed to Janus by the Rex Sacrorum at the Regia. Other Agonaliae were held on January 9, March 17, and May 21. The Septimontium was also held on this day, a celebration of the incorporation of the Seven Hills of Rome as a single city. Seven sacrifices were made in seven different places, one on each hill. Feasts and chariot races were also part of the festivities. During the Republic, horse-drawn carriages were not used on this day.

December 12

On this day a festival for Consus, god of grain preservation and storage, was held. This festival was evidently smaller and less important that the Consualiae (see August 21 and December 15).

December 13

A festival for Tellus, the goddess of the Earth, was held on this day in the Carinae district on the Esquiline Hill. This day was also the Ides of December, and like all Ides was sacred to Jupiter.

December 15

On this day the second Consualia was held, the first having been on August 21. The Consualia was dedicated to Consus, god of grain preservation and storage. Like grain storage vaults, Consus' temple was underground, and was only unearthed on the Consualia. Chariot races were held in the Circus Maximus, with the chariots pulled by the usual horses, and also mules, as both were the sacred animals of Consus. As part of the celebration the Rex Sacrorum, dressed in his full ceremonial garb, rode a chariot one lap around the Circus. Horses and mules were forbidden to work on this day, and were adorned with flowers.

December 17-23

The main winter festival, the Saturnalia, was held at this time. It originally was only observed on December 17, but by the late Republic had been expanded to last until December 23. The festival was primarily concerned with the winter solstice, and worshiped Saturn as the god of seed sowing. The festivities began with a public sacrifice and feast to which everyone was invited. A ritual couch was placed in front of the temple of Saturn, the ropes that were tied around the statue of Saturn the rest of the year were released, and special market called the sigllaria was held. Privately, presents of varying cost and size were exchanged and candles were lit. The normal rules governing slaves were temporarily revoked, and slaves convened with their masters on equal terms, even dining with them in a feast. Each household elected a Saturnalicius princeps to preside over the celebrations. All business was put aside, and gambling games were allowed to be played in public. There was a general sense of good will, peace, and camaraderie expressed during the Saturnalia, though excessive drinking and partying were also commonplace. The Compitalia was also held around this time (see Movable Festivals).

December 18

A festival was held this day for Epona, a Gallic goddess of horses and their kin adopted by the Romans. She over time came to represent the fertility of those animals.

December 19

The Opalia, the second major festival for Ops, was held this day. Ops was an ancient fertility and earth-mother goddess connected to riches and abundance, particularly of crops. Worshipers prayed to Ops by sitting with their hands on the ground, as Ops was believed to dwell underground. For the festival the Vestal Virgins opened a sacred room in Ops' temple and performed secret rites with the objects therein to ensure the fertility of the earth. The first festival for Ops, the Opiconsivia, was held August 25.

December 21

On this day the Divialia Angeronae, the festival for Angerona, was held. Angerona was a goddess of unclear function, some believed she ended men’s sorrow and suffering, others believed she cured mouth abscesses in people and animals. It was generally agreed upon she served some function in protecting Rome and protected the sacred name of the city which could never be spoken, generally believed to be the word angerona itself. For the festival priests made sacrifices before Angerona's statue, which stood with a finger held over her bound mouth, in the temple of Voluipa, goddess of pleasure.

December 22

A festival to the lares, household spirits, was observed on this day.
December 23

The Larentalia was held on this day, honoring Acca Larentia, mistress of Hercules. Various legends surrounded her, some believed she married Tarutius, a wealthy Etruscan, and on his death left his holdings to the Roman people. Others believed she married Faustulus, the shepherd who found Romulus and Remus, and raised the twins. She was also identified as mother of the lares, household spirits, and a goddess of grain fields. Whatever her role, she was believed to be a key figure in Roman history and on this day funeral rites were held before her alleged tomb.


Fixed Holidays by Date


Moveable Festivals by Approximate Starting Date

Mid-December to Early January

The Compitalia, a movable festival, was held around late December or early January, but usually on January 3rd, 4th, or 5th. The exact date was chosen annually by the Praetor Urbanis. It was a festival of the lares and crossroads, marking the end of the agricultural year. Shrines were built at the intersection of three or four farms, with an entrance on each side to allow the farms' lares to enter. A plow was hung in the shrine, along with one wooden doll for each free person in the farms, and one woolen ball for each slave.

Late January

The Sementivae, a movable festival, was held in late Jnauary on a date chosen by the Curio Maximus. The Paganalia was also held around the time of the Sementivae, but it is unclear if it is a distinct festival, a component of the Sementivae, or just another name for the Sementivae. These festivals were held on two separate days within an interval of seven days, and were agricultural in nature, concerning seed sowing. Offerings in the form of a sacrifice of a pregnant sow and wheat cakes were made to Tellus, the goddess of the Earth, the first day and Ceres, the goddess of plant growth, on the second.

Late April

Near the end of April a movable festival honoring Jupiter Latiaris called the Feriae Latinae was held. This festival was celebrated jointly by Romans and Latins on the Alban Mount and honored Jupiter in his role as head of the Latin League. A white cow was sacrificed and eaten by representatives from each of the cities in the Latin League. The festival outlasted any real practicality of the Latin League itself, being observed into the 3rd century C.E.

Late May

The movable festival the Ambarvalia was held around the end of May. It was a festival for the purification of the crops, and thus invoked agricultural gods such as Ceres and Bacchus. A pig, sheep, and ox were led in sacred processions known as the suovetauriliae around the traditional boundaries of Rome and individuals' fields in both public and private ceremonies. Wine was then offered to Janus and Jupiter, and cakes and the animals of the suovetaurilia were then sacrificed to Mars.

 


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