Holidays of Ancient Rome: names and features

History 2023

Table of contents:

Holidays of Ancient Rome: names and features
Holidays of Ancient Rome: names and features

The power of Ancient Rome covered vast territories. The colorful culture of the conquered countries influenced the empire. The culture of Rome reunited the ancient customs of the conquered peoples with the cult of personality of the highest bearer of power - the emperor. After all, he was deified throughout Rome. This helped to avoid the loss of the identity of Roman culture, despite the influence from other peoples. She had her idea, her core.

The holidays of Ancient Rome included competitions, religious and political events. Due to the difficult political situation in the empire, where everyone was completely subordinate to the leader-dictator, it was necessary to distract ordinary people with something. Therefore, the celebrations in Ancient Rome answered the slogan of the people: “Bread and circuses!”

Great attention was paid to religious holidays. In ancient Rome, people believed that every object has a soul. And a certain god gave him this soul. Therefore, they worshiped deities who, in their opinion, could bring them both we alth and grief. Therefore, the celebrations mainly includedoffering gifts to the gods to appease them.

Many holidays have survived to this day. They are celebrated not only in Italy, but all over the world. The main ancient Roman holidays, their origin, traditions, we will consider in our today's article.

ancient rome holidays

Ides of March

There were no weeks or days in Ancient Rome. They used ides, nones and calends to keep time. Ides is the middle of the month. It was the 15th in July, October, March and May. In other months, the ides fell on the 13th. On this day, the priests of the god Jupiter sacrificed a sheep.

During the reign of Caesar, a new Roman calendar appeared - the Julian. Because of this, the ides lost their meaning. However, what made the ides stand out in March? This day became fatal. He influenced the course of history as a whole.

March 15 celebrated the New Year and honored the goddess Anna Perenna. Huts of young greenery were erected near the Tiber River and were located there or in the open. On this day, people hugged a lot, drank and sang obscene songs. The rite of burning Anna Perenna in the form of a harmful old woman was carried out. There is a myth about how Mars turned to Anna for help. He wanted to win the favor of the young Minerva. Anna Perenna promised to help. Later, Minerva actually came to Mars in her wedding attire. When he rushed to kiss her, the covers fell off her, and Anna herself appeared before him. She ridiculed him, not embarrassed in expressions. This legend became the basis for many songs that were sung on March 15th. An interesting fact is that in somecities of Italy to this day, the rite of burning the goddess is carried out.

But the Ides of March is better known because of a different event. On March 15, Julius Caesar was assassinated. He was assassinated by Republicans who thought it would help save the Republic. But it turned out quite the opposite. This only accelerated her fall.

It is known that long before March 15, the soothsayer warned Caesar about the danger on the Ides of March. But the proud ruler did not surround himself with guards. He talked about how it is better to die once than to constantly expect death.

One of the conspirators was Brutus, who was a close friend of Caesar. He even considered him his son. The last words, after which he ceased to resist the attack, were: "And you, Brutus!" So the Ides of March became a symbol of the tragic event.

ides of march

Neptune Day

Neptune in ancient Roman culture was the god of the seas and water currents. In times of drought, people asked him to prevent a drought, because because of it, the crops on which they were so dependent could die. July 23 is one of the hottest days. Therefore, on this day, Neptunalia, or in another way the day of Neptune, was celebrated. On this day, people also built huts on the shore. They also made sacrifices to Neptune and his wife.

There is another version of the origin of the Neptune holiday. At a time when sailors could not yet know the weather conditions, latitude and longitude in advance, their ships could stand idle at the equator not only for days, but also for weeks. So, at the moment when the provisions were running out, the sailors asked for mercy from the patron saint of the seas and oceans.

TodayThe holiday of Neptune is most associated with navigation. In Russia, they began to hold it in order to brighten up the monotonous everyday life of sailors. But ordinary people are happy to celebrate the day of Neptune. This is one of the hottest summer days. Therefore, people pour water on each other and bathe. The presence of the patron saint of the seas and oceans is obligatory. Someone dresses up like Neptune. Must have a silver beard. In the hand of God is always a trident, with which he controlled the water space. Neptune appears surrounded by mermaids. There are competitions and games for children.

Roman calendar

Ceres Day

Cerealia is an ancient Roman festival in honor of Ceres. She is the goddess of fertility. It was believed that the goddess taught people how to cultivate fields and was the patroness of motherhood. In anger, she could send madness on a person. Different sources indicate different dates for the celebration. Approximately it fell on April 11-12 and dragged on for 8-9 days. On the feast of Ceres, bloody sacrifices were carried out: pigs were most often slaughtered.

The people dressed in white, and their heads were tied with wreaths. The celebration began with a solemn procession to the circus. There were equestrian competitions. People arranged meals to which anyone could come. So they asked Ceres to give them hearty food and a good harvest.

Fox-baiting was also carried out. Stamps were tied to their tails, which were previously sacred. After that, the animals were released into the circus.

Juno's Day

In another way, this day is called Matronalia, derived from the word "matron". It turns out thatThis holiday was celebrated only by married women. Matronalia is a great women's holiday. It was celebrated not on March 8, as is customary now, but on March 1. On this day, legally married ladies received gifts from their husbands and children. After that, they gave out instructions to everyone and had to give a trinket to the slaves, and to the slaves - food. Women put on wreaths of flowers on their heads and dressed in their best clothes. So they went to the temple of Juno. They sacrificed flowers to the goddess and prayed for an easy birth. At this time, their husbands prayed for a strong marriage and for the he alth of their spouse.

Juno's holiday is similar to modern Mother's Day. Indeed, in ancient Rome, women were not welcomed in marriage, but without children.

An important historical event is also associated with this date. Namely, the conclusion of a truce between the Romans and the Sabines, by the way, which happened thanks to the Sabines women.

bacchanalia in ancient rome

Roman New Year

For a long time the Romans celebrated the New Year on March 1st. And it was associated with the beginning of field work. However, when Gaius Julius Caesar introduced the new Roman calendar, the celebration of the New Year shifted to January 1st. The very name of the month "January" comes from the name of the god Janus. It was he who was honored on New Year's Eve. An interesting symbol of the beginning of the new year is that Janus was a two-faced god. According to legend, with one face he looked forward to the future, and with the other - to the past. Janus opened the gates of heaven and let out the sun, and when night fell, he closed them again.

On this festive day, people decorated their homes and invited guests. Even the slavescelebrated the New Year with their hosts.

Our wonderful tradition of giving each other gifts on New Year's Eve comes from ancient Rome. People presented coins to a friend, with the patron god of the New Year depicted on them, laurel branches and other gifts. New Year's wishes to each other have also become a good custom. People wished good luck in the New Year, sometimes congratulations were accompanied by good jokes.

The people gave gifts to their emperor. At first, it was at the request of the people. But later this custom ceased to be voluntary. The people were obliged to give a gift.

It is worth noting that the emperors did not stand aside and also gave gifts to their people. There is a legend that once Julius Caesar gave one slave the most expensive gift - freedom.

The infamous Emperor Caligula on New Year's Eve went to the square, where he accepted gifts from his subjects, while the servants wrote down who gave and what exactly.

The celebration of the New Year was preceded by the feast of Saturnalia, which will now be discussed.

Ancient Roman festival of Venus


This holiday of Ancient Rome is named after Saturn, the king of kings or the god of fertility and farmers. Saturnalia began to be celebrated on December 17th. On this day, shops were closed, children were sent home from school, guilty slaves were not punished, criminals were not executed or tried.

Initially, it was a holiday of the peasants. After all, the harvest ended in the second half of December. The feast of Saturnalia was celebrated modestly in ancient Romeand just one day. But later it gained popularity and all classes began to celebrate it.

There is an opinion that carnivals appeared during the celebration of Saturnalia. Even the most famous carnivals originate from Ancient Rome. This holiday is very similar to carnival processions. Initially, offerings were made to Saturn - a festival and the so-called "week of idleness" began at his temple. The name comes from the fact that the celebration in the last years of the Republic reached 7 days.

Slaves and their masters changed clothes. Also, the owner could not refuse his slave anything. They sat and celebrated at the same table. The master served the slave. After the celebration, he had no right to punish the slave for his behavior during the Saturnalia. Modern carnivals have taken this custom of dressing up as a basis. Wax candles and dough figurines were traditional gifts.

Flora Celebrations

Floraria is a holiday dedicated to the goddess Flora. Flora is the patroness of flowers and youth. The celebrations were held from April 28 to May 3. These days people decorated their houses with garlands of flowers. Women were strictly forbidden to wear bright, colorful clothes, but on the days of the celebration of Floralia, ladies were dressed that way. They danced and had fun. All the people feasted during the celebrations in honor of the goddess Flora. On one of the days of the celebration, competitions were held.

According to the Romans, the festival in honor of the goddess Flora contributed to a good harvest of fruit trees. Therefore, it was impossible not to celebrate it.

religious holidays in ancient rome


Liberals were celebrated by the inhabitants of Ancient Rome on March 17th. This holiday is in honor of Liber, the patron saint of fertilization, and Ceres. On this day, young boys who had reached the age of majority received and put on a white toga for the first time. This meant that from that moment on, a person is considered a full-fledged citizen of Rome and he is no longer a child. Now a young man can vote, leave his father's house, start his own family.

At first, Liber and his female counterpart - Liber were revered only by the lower classes. However, in the future there was an equation of estates. After that, Liber began to be revered along with such gods as Mars, Venus, etc.

In the future, the god Liber became the patron of free self-governing cities. After all, even his name is translated as “freedom.”

On March 17, the inhabitants of Ancient Rome wore bark masks, had fun and sang obscene songs. Sometimes it came to outright licentiousness. On this day, an erect penis was constructed from flowers. In ancient Rome, it was considered a symbol of fertility, as well as the beginning of a new life.

Later descriptions of Liberalia suggest that rites on this day included sexual orgies, and even human sacrifice. It turns out that Liber was rather not the god of freedom, but the patron saint of liberation from the rules.

The god Liber was also the patron of viticulture. The celebration of March 17 was not chosen by chance. This day was the grape harvest.

The feast of Liberalia in Ancient Rome was not complete without sacrifices. Goats were usually slaughtered on this day.

Later Liber was identified with Bacchus, the patron saint of winemaking.

feast of juno

Veneralia in Rome

The ancient Roman feast of Venus fell on April 1st. April is the middle of spring. This season is associated with warmth, love and beauty. Veneralia is a holiday in honor of the goddess Venus. She was originally the patroness of spring, fertility and flowers. Later, the image of Venus was identified with the ancient Greek Aphrodite. Since it was believed that Venus was the mother of Aeneas, and his descendants founded Rome, she became the patroness of the Roman people.

The symbol of Venus was the myrtle plant. Therefore, on April 1, wreaths were woven from this plant and put on their heads. There were mass bathing in public pools.

For the most part Veneralia is a women's holiday. On this day, women prayed to Venus for help in relationships with men. On this day, they hid all jewelry and jewelry from the goddess. The statue of Venus was washed with water and flowers were brought to it. The origin of the custom of bathing and washing the statue of the goddess is due to the fact that Venus was identified with Aphrodite, who, according to legend, arose from sea foam.

Roman Orgy

This holiday is one of the most depraved in the Ancient World. It is dedicated to Bacchus, the patron saint of winemaking and the symbol of periodic death and rebirth. It was celebrated on March 17.

Initially it was a women's holiday. Men were not allowed to the celebration. Women on this day in a grove near the hill, which is now practically the center of Rome, stripped naked and arranged wild dances.

However, over time, tomen were also allowed to celebrate. Because of this, the dances degenerated into orgies. It is known that there was not so much debauchery between a man and a woman as between a man and a man. If someone resisted and did not want intercourse, then this person was sacrificed to Bacchus.

A huge number of people participated in this event. Among them were famous people and members of noble families. Later, a rule appeared according to which people under the age of 20 were initiated into the so-called "sacrament". Dissenters were thrown into the underground abyss. This was explained by the fact that the gods took people away.

This tradition is widespread. Up to 7,000 people took part in the celebration.

However, an investigation was soon conducted and Bacchanalia was banned in Ancient Rome. Leaders and organizers were executed en masse. They were accused of molestation, murder and other cruel crimes.

Thus ended the revelry of Bachnalia. However, he did not completely disappear. The organizers just got more careful. There was no publicity and such a mass gathering of people.

Popular topic