The holiday of Vesta, Goddess of the hearth. The Vestal Virgins employ the mola salsa, the holy cake, in the celebrations of the day. First, water is drawn by the Virgins from a sacred spring; the water may not be set down on the ground (contact with the earth would destroy its sacred nature), and is carried in narrow-bottomed vessels to prevent this. The salt used in the cakes is specially made from brine brought in a salt pan and then ground in a mortar and baked in a jar. The salt thus produced was cut with an iron saw. This salt was used on the grain or flour, using the ears of grain gathered on the 7th, 9th, and 11th days of Maivs, and then turned into flour.

Women who wish to make offerings to Vesta in her temple during the Vestalia usually offer sacrifices of simple food, borne on a platter. When doing so, women go barefoot. Only women (and the Pontifex Maximus) were allowed in the temple of Vesta.

Bakers and millers also honor this day, and the various tools of their trade (millstones and the beasts of burden used to turn them) are garlanded with violets and small loaves.

pat_byza.gif (1051 bytes)

Calendar Page / Master Index