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MARTIUS (sacred to Mars)

Martius calendar

Kalends of Martius

I Martius/March 1: As the Kalends of the month, the day is sacred to Juno, but is also much known for its festivals to Mars. Laurels (which are sacred to Mars) are affixed to the houses of the flamen priests and to various public buildings.

As the first day of the new year, the twenty-four Salii (which means Dancers or Leapers, a collegium which is divided into the Palatini (devoted to Mars Gradivvs) and the Agonenses (devoted to Quirinus)) will, dressed in archaic military armor and bearing the sacred ancile shields, dancing throughout the streets and chanting the ancient Carme Saliare. After their dance, the Salii hold a spectacular feast. The dance and feast of the Salii are repeated on the 9th and 23rd days of the month. [back to calendar]


I Martius/March 1: The Matronalia, held on New Year's Day, is sacred to Juno Lucina, who presides over women and childbirth in particular. When engaged in her worship, women had to unbind their hair and have nothing knotted on their person, to symbolize nothing hindering safe childbirth. It is a day of renewal, as the sacred fire of Vesta is tended by the Vestal Virgins.

On the Matronalia it is customary for husbands to pray for the wellbeing and health of their wives. It is a day of great celebration and revelry, when gifts are exchanged between friends and family members. It is a day of feasting, gambling, and music, with much dancing in the streets.[back to calendar]

Nones of Martius

VII Martius/March 7: This day was sacred to Vediovius, an ancient deity associated with Jupiter and the underworld.[back to calendar]


XIV Martius/March 14: A festival of horse racing dedicated to Mars, god of war and agriculture. Established by Romulus himself in the early days of Rome. It is held in the Campus Martius in Roma, or the Campus Martialis if the former is flooded. In the modern world, attending a horse racing event would be quite appropriate. It was held both on the 27th of Februarius and the 14th of Martius.[back to calendar]

Anna Perenna

XV Martius/March 15: This day was sacred to Annae Perena, the personification of the succession of the years. Represented as an old woman, her worship is celebrated by both men and women who engage in much revelry, dancing, and drinking as many cups of wine as the number of years they pray to live. Public prayers and sacrifice are also offered to ensure a prosperous coming year. It is an uninhibited day of frolic for most people.

The day is also sacred to Jupiter.[back to calendar]

Procession of the Argei

XVI et XVII Martius/March 16 and 17: On this day a procession goes to the shrines of the Argei; they were brought to twenty-seven special shrines throughout the four Servian regions of Roma in a preparatory rite. The argei themselves are human-shaped bundles of rushes that are thrown into the river later in the year (the Argeis in Maius). It is held from the 16th to the 17th of Martius.[back to calendar]


XVII Martius/March 17: The celebration of Liber Pater, an old Italian god of both fertility and wine. He is associated with the Greek Dionysus. Old women, acting as priestesses of Liber Pater, wear ivy weaths and displaying cakes (libia) made of oil and honey. They would sacrifice these cakes to Liber Pater for the passersby. A later development included the goddess Libera (as a counterpart to the male Liber); the two split jurisdiction over the female and male seed respectively. A rustic ceremony, a large phallus was carted around the countryside to encourage fertility and protect the crops from evil, after which a wreath was placed upon it by a virtuous matron.[back to calendar]


XVII Martius/March 17: Celebrated on IX Januarius, XVII Martius, XXI Maius, and XI December. The rex sacrorum sacrifices a ram at the Regia in Roma. It honors Janus, Liber Pater, Vediovius, and Sol Indiges, respectively. The Agonalia on XVII Martius was the day young boys were usually initiated into manhood by donning their adult togas.[back to calendar]


XIX Martius ad XXIII Martius/March 19-23: A celebration sacred to Mars. The Salii (priests of Mars) dance in the comitium (attended by the pontiffs and the symbolic representatives of the army — the tribuni celerum), and the sacred arma ancilia are purified. In this sense, it is a ritual preparation for the season's coming military campaigns. The celebration of Mars lasts for five days.

The 19th of Martius is also sacred to Minerva, goddess of handicrafts, doctors, teachers, artists, and more.[back to calendar]


XXIII Martius/March 23: This is the day of the Purification of the Trumpets, held on both XXIII Martius and XXIII Maius. An ewe is sacrificed to sanctify the trumpets used in many of the public rites. It was accompanied by a dance of the Salii. Once again it is a ceremony of purification and preparation for both the coming sacral year and the military campaigning season. [back to calendar]


XXXI Martius/March 31: This day was sacred to Luna, the personification of the moon.[back to calendar]

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