Monday, September 26, 2005

Ante Diem VI Kalendas October

Modern Date : September 26th

Ante Diem VI Kalendas October
Sixth Day to the Kalends of October

This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

Jerusalem fell to Vespasian's legions under Titus this day in 20 AD, ending the Jewish War, although the fortress Masada held out three years longer.

A solemn procession transpired on the fourth day of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries. The holy basket of Ceres was moved about in a consecrated cart. On every side, the people cheered Ceres. Following the cart came women called the kisophoroi, who carried baskets in which were sesame, carded wool, grains of salt, a serpent, pomegranates, reeds, ivy, and ceremonial cakes. A libation was offered to Dionysus and to the other gods, but it was a feast of wine from which Demeter abstained during her period of mourning. Therefore those already within the cult imitated her and did not leave their homes. It was probably on this day that the contents of the kykeon (Barley, water and mint-pennyroyal) were made ready.

September is the 'magical' seventh month (after March).

Trung Thu Festival, Chinese Mid Autumn Day
The Trung Thu Festival (on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month), or Children's Day, apparently recalls a Duong-Dynasty evening when Emperor Minh-Hoang took his Empress to the shores of a beautiful lake. Beside the water, under the full moon, the ardent lover recited his moon-inspired poetry to his lady. However, the festival is not so much about wooing lovers as celebrating the result of such affairs.

On this day kids are given banh nuong (cakes made of sesame seeds and ground lotus flowers) and banh deo (glutinous rice dumplings). But the real treat is the lanterns crafted into shapes of boats, dragonflies, butterflies and even spacecraft.

The festival really begins after dark, when the children come out onto the streets to swing their colourful lanterns and dance in processions under the gaze of proud parents. If you catch this festival in any place with a high vantage point, then follow the crowds of families who will find the best view to light their children's lanterns and to watch the huge harvest moon rise in the sky.

Trung Thu is not all about indulging the kids. There is also an educational element whereby children learn from grandparents and parents how to prepare and present the festival dinner. There is usually a "doctor" made of paper or dough to remind them of high standards to be achieved in their studies.

The Mid-Autumn Festival is also found in Hong Kong, Singapore and all over China. In Hong Kong the reason for the festival apparently dates back to a Mongolian uprising in the 14th century, when the cakes were invented to carry secret messages of war.

Mid Autumn Day
This is also a Scottish holiday, traditionally considered the start of mating season for deer. Today is also the Hermanus Whale Festival in Hermanus South Africa. I guess not every day has to have a religious component. Spending the day watching the Goddess's greatest ocean creation sounds fine to me. Opps! I found a saint...

St. Cyprian the Magi
This saint, so surnamed from his having, previous to his conversion, practised the arts of a magician or diviner, has been coupled in the calendar with Justina, a young Syrian lady, regarding whom a young pagan nobleman applied to Cyprian to assist him with his arts in rendering her more favourable to his suit. Justina was a Christian, and opposed, we are told, through the aid of the Virgin, such an effectual resistance to the devices of Cyprian, that the latter was convinced of the weakness of the infernal spirits, and resolved to quit their service. He consulted a priest named Eusebius, who encouraged him in the work of conversion, which he ultimately consummated by burning all his magical books, giving his substance to the poor, and enrolling himself among the Christian catechumens. On the breaking out of the persecution under Dioclesian, Cyprian was apprehended and carried before the Roman governor at Tyre. Justina, who had been the original mover in his change of life, was, at the same time, brought before this judge and cruelly scourged, whilst Cyprian was torn with iron hooks. After this the two martyrs were sent to Nicomedia, to the Emperor Dioclesian, who forthwith commanded their heads to be struck off. The history of St. Cyprian and St. Justina was recorded in a Greek poem by the Empress Eudocia, wife of Theodosius the Younger, a work which is now lost.


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