The ancient Romans celebrated many holy days; probably more than is practical for we modern Pagans to attempt to emulate. They didn't have weekends so these feast days were their only days off from work, though Sunday was declared a day of rest by Constantine in the 4th century BCE. Feast days allowed Romans to come together to share what their labor wrought and spend time with their neighbors, as well as take in state sponsored entertainment, and of course serve their Gods. Festivals often included a sacrifice and a communal meal which meant that the poorest people of the city had the opportunity to eat well once in awhile.
A great deal of information about the feast days celebrated by the ancient Romans can be gotten from Ovid's Fasti
Agonalia -The word Agonalia may derive from agonia meaning victim or agonium meaning festival.
Amburbium -Amburbium was a city-wide ritual that took place in ancient Rome during times of great distress. During this time everything in the city was cleansed and purified. There was a great procession three times around the city led by priests after which a hog, a ram and a bull were sacrificed. Some sources say that this ritual was traditionally performed in the middle of February.
Caristia -Caristia, or Cara cognatio, was a Roman feast day that fell on the 22nd of February, between the Feralia and the Terminalia. On this day the family gathered in the home for a big feast of thanksgiving for one another. Fathers were expected to be particularly attentive to their families during this time. Household and hearth deities were honored, but there were no major obligations as far as the state religion was concerned.
Cerealia -Cerealia was a 7-day festival celebrated in ancient Rome in honor of the goddess Ceres. The exact dates of the April festival are uncertain: but it may have started started on the Ides of April. The festival involved women in white robes carrying torches in solidarity with the Goddess Ceres/Demeter's search for her lost daughter Proserphina/Persephone and was accompanied by the Ludi Ceriales or "Games of Ceres" in the Circus Maximus.
Compitalia -The Compitalia or Ludi Compitalicii was a festival celebrated once a year in honor of the Lares Compitales, household deities of the crossroads, to whom sacrifices were offered at the places where two or more ways meet. The word comes from the Latin compitum, a cross-way.
Feast Of Epicurus -Epicurus was a philosopher in the third century B.C.E. who established a community he called "The Garden". The group accepted women, including courtesans, and slaves and was looked down upon by many of the pillars of society. After his death in 270 B.C.E., his followers celebrated a monthly feast in his honor.
Lupercalia -Lupercalia was an ancient Roman fertility festival celebrated on February 15 in honor of Faunus. Priests called Luperci walked through the streets with strips of goatskin with which they struck festival goers in order to purify them and ensure their fertility.
Megalesia -The Megalesia or Megalenses Ludi is an ancient Roman festival in honor of the Magna Mater (great mother) Cybele that lasted for six days, beginning on April 4th. It celebrated the bringing of Cybele's sacred relic from Pessinus to Rome and the dedication of Her temple by Marcus Junium Brutus in 203 BC. The statue was brought to Rome during the Punic Wars because the Sibylline Books predicted that the Phrygian Goddess would help them defeat Hannibal.
Opiconsivia -Opiconsivia or Opeconsiva is an ancient Roman harvest festival that was celebrated on August 25th in honor of the Goddess Ops or Opis, the Goddess of plenty. The word "consivia" comes from the Latin word conserere, to sow. The Vestal Virgins and Flamines of Quirinus oversaw the festivities which involved a chariot race. Draft animals were crowned with flowers and allowed to take part in the festivities.
Quinquatrus -Quinquatrus is an ancient Roman festival in honor of the Goddess Minerva that began on March 19th and continued for five days. The first, most important day, was the consecration of Minerva's temple and subsequent days consisted of gladiatorial contests, plays, orators, poets, and the consultation of fortune tellers by women.
Saturnalia -Saturnalia was an ancient Roman holiday held from December 17th or the first day of Capricorn, the house of Saturn and lasted from one to five days variously through its history. The celebration of Saturnalia continued into the 4th century C.E.
Tubilustrium -Tubilustrium was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the God Mars that took place on March 23rd and marked the beginning of the campaign season. War trumpets and weapons were cleaned and Priests of Mars called Salii went dancing through the streets.
Veneralia -Veneralia is an ancient Roman celebration of Venus that took place on the Kalends of Aprilis, that is, the first of April. Romulus, the legendary founder of Rome, considered Venus to be his ancestor and Mars to be his father, so the ancient calendar of Rome began with the month of Mars (March) followed by the month of Venus, beginning with the celebration of the Goddess to whom it was dedicated.
How can we improve this section?