Tag Archives: Roman Holidays

Saturnalia: A Golden Time

The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar

Image from The Book of Awakening 2017 wall calendar. Eurasian Bullfinch on frozen branches © Markus Varesvuo. Click image for more info.

This Roman holiday is sometimes viewed as the pagan version of Christmas, even though it was certainly being acknowledged long before the Biblical events that are celebrated around the time of the Winter Solstice.

Saturnalia, as it was practiced in Rome for centuries before the birth of Christ, has many elements found in other end-of-year rituals, including Hanukkah and Twelfth Night. This seven-day festival, which begins on December 17, was a time when courts did not meet and war could not be declared, so it was a time outside of time, like the Halcyon Days. Continue reading

Fortuna: Goddess of Good Fortune

Image from our Bee Happy 2017 wall calendar. Photograph © DrRave. Click image for more info.

Image from our Bee Happy 2017 wall calendar. Photograph © DrRave. Click image for more info.

The ancient Romans celebrated Fortuna, the goddess of good fortune, on June 24. In The Book of Goddesses and Heroines, Patricia Monaghan comments that Fortuna meant not merely “luck,” but the principle that drives men and women to mate, an irresistible “Fors.” Fortuna was the goddess of the fertilization of humans, animals, and plants, and thus was especially worshipped by gardeners and by women wanting to become pregnant. As Fortuna Virilis, she made women irresistible to men. It was perhaps on this day that Roman women invaded men’s public baths. Continue reading

Floralia: May Day’s Origins

New for 2017 — Image from our Bloom 2017 wall calendar featuring photographs by Ron van Dongen. Click image for more info.

Having just named my puppy Flora, I’m more inclined than usual to celebrate Floralia, the Roman holiday that’s most likely the origin of May Day, the flowery holiday that initiates the summer season.

The festival honored Flora, the Sabine goddess who represented the reproductive abundance of nature, the sexual aspects of plants, and the attractiveness of flowers. The celebrations, which began on April 28 and went on for six days and nights, included games, pantomimes, plays, and stripteases. According to Suetonius in CE 68, the entertainment included a tightrope-walking elephant. Continue reading