The Festivals of Decembro

Di benedicaris vos.

Decembro (December) is the busiest month for the Collegio Sacerdae. It is full of many several holidays and festivals, some of which over-lap, and often coincides with State duties. Let’s begin right on l’Una Decembro (the 1st of December).

Dec. – Festival of Poseidon
The Festival of Poseidon is fairly self-evident. One would especially worship the King of the Seas on this day: Poseidon (Roman: Neptune). Present to Him on His shrine objects of the seas, your cherished items you wish to offer to Him, and eat plenty of seafood!

III C Dec. – Festival of the Bona Dea
The Bona Dea, or “Good Goddess” in Latin”, is an epithet given to several goddesses. In Sandus, we use it to denote the goddess Cybele, who is seen by some ancients as the Queen of Gods — conflicting with the view that Hera (Roman: Juno) is the Queen — and her worship came to Rome from Anatolia via Athens. This epithet can be given to other gods, like Hera, Isis, Tanit, Gaia, Ops, and so on.

V-VIII EH Dec. – Faunalia
The Faunalia is a country festival dedicated to the god Faunus, a horned god later equated with the Greek satyr-god Pan. In the countryside, the folk would present Faunus offerings in fields consecrated for the purpose of the festival and they would sing, dance, and be merry.

VIII H Dec. – Tiberinalia
The Tiberinalia is a festival dedicated to the genius of the Tiber river: Tiberinus. By tradition, he is the god who gave the twins Romulus and Remus to the lupa she-wolf. His festival would be celebrated in cities and towns on the river Tiber. He is also called Tiberinus Pater, meaning “Father Tiberinus”, and helps to relate the sentiments of Romans and Latins to their view of the river.

B Dec. – Septimontium
The Septimontium is a festival held specifically in Rome and dedicated to the city of Rome, her government, and her people. Its name comes from septum montes or “seven hills” that comprise the city of Rome. It dates to before the urban era of Rome and is seen as a Roman pre-urban variant of the Paganalia: people would attend private festivals held by their district in the city of Rome; however, for the Septimontium, people would attend private festivals according to their hill or montani (the distinction of being from one hill or another).

XIV-XXXI F-A-A-G Dec. – Brumalia/Halcyon Days
These festivals, grouped together in the Collegio Sacerdae calendar, are two different festivals.
Simply put, the Halcyon Days is a mythological reference. One of the daughters of Aeolus, the Greek god of wind, Alcyone and her husband Ceyx referred to each other as “Zeus” and “Hera”, which angered both the gods. When Zeus destroyed the ship Ceyx was sailing, Alcyone threw Herself off a cliff in despair; Zeus and Hera, taking pity on both Ceyx and Alcyone, transformed Alcyone into a halcyon bird. In this time period of XIV-XXXI (14-31), Alcyone is said to be laying Her eggs and Aeolus would restrain his winds in order to help his daughter. Therefore, the Halcyon Days is simply a seven day period that happens in mid- to late-Decembro when the winds are not supposed to blow.
The Brumalia is a winter festival dedicated to Saturn, Ops, and Bacchus. Romulus began this festival when he was king of Rome and would entertain the Senate during this time. By tradition, it was held in a 30-day span from XXIV Novembro (24 November) to XXV Decembro (25 December), ending with the “Waxing of the Light”. In Sandus, we shorten this period and also continue its celebrations onwards to the end of Decembro, until the Gregorian New Year.

XV G Dec. – Consualia
The Consualia is a festival dedicated to the tutelary (protection) and chthonic (earthy) god Consus, god of protection of grain and silos. His altar, beneath the Circus Maximus, was uncovered from its underground state during the Consualia, which were followed by the festivals to Ops, the goddess of plenty. Consus would be worshipped at this time for the protection of grain throughout the winter and, like His temples, grain was also stored beneath the ground in silos. Household gods and Mars, as protector of the harvest, would be worshipped along with Consus on this day.

XVII-XXIII AG Dec. – Saturnalia
The Saturnalia, perhaps the best known festival of this month, is dedicated to the father of the Olympian Gods, Saturn (Greek: Cronus). Gift-giving, carnival atmosphere, continual partying: all was had in honour of Saturn. Social norms were overturned: Romans could gamble freely, masters would serve their slaves, and all forms of work were on holiday. Social egalitarianism would reign for this seven-day period and would lead into the Solstice. A “Greek” rite would be held to Saturn at His temple in the Forum Romanum: the priest would officiate the rite without his head covered and sacrifices would be made with a head-covering by a special fold in the toga — this is often related to the Hellenisation of Roman culture (as this is not normal for Roman rites). A public banquet followed the rite. The Senate held a lectisternium, a ritual-banquet held with an image of the godseated on a couch as if He was present. Private parties and gift giving would follow for the next days.

XIX C Dec. – Opalia
The Opalia, which followed the Consualia, was dedicated to the goddess Ops, the goddess of plenty. Since Her abode was inside the earth (making her chthonic), Her rites were conducted sitting down and with hands touching the earth. Though seen as a consort of Saturn (which, Her festival is celebrated during Saturnalia), she was closely related to Consus, especially in December. Whereas Consus oversees the protection of the grain in its silos, Ops ensures there is enough and plenty of grain for the winter. The rite would be officiated by the Vestal Virgins and by the Flamen Quirinalis (the priest of Quirinalis, a god said to represent Romulus as god of the people, especially during war) at the Regia, the ancient home of the kings of Rome. Horses and mules would take part in this celebration, being important in farming, and there would be a race on the Circus Maximus.

XXI E Dec. – Divalia
The Divalia is dedicated to the archaic Roman goddess Angerona, whose purpose was to relieve men of pain and sorrow. Her festival was celebrated in the temple of Voluptas, the goddess of sensual pleasures and bliss. The pontifices facilitated her rights.

XXIII G Dec. – Larentalia
The Larentalia is a festival dedicated either to the Lares, the protective spirits of the home and pantry, or to Acca Larentia, the adoptive mother of Romulus and Remus.

XXV A Dec. – Dies Natalis Solis Invictus
The Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, or “the Day of Birth of the Unconquerable Sun”, is a festival dedicated to Sol Invictus, the Imperial Roman god of the sun whose cult was instituted in 274 CE by the emperor Aurelian.

Sacra Flameno


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