Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Ante Diem V Idus October

Modern Date : October 11th

Ante Diem V Idus October
The Meditrinalia

This day is for special religious observance.

The festival of the Meditranalia begins the festive period of the month. Meditrina is the goddess of healing and wine would have been consumed in her honor as it was considered to have medicinal properties. Meditrina lends her name to the Mediterranean sea which in Roman times was called Mare Nostrum [our sea]. Jupiter also, as a wine-god, was honored on this day. Feasting and games were in order for this and the next several days. Romans on this day sampled both old wine and the new wine, wine that was not yet fully fermented. This ritual sampling cured disease, according to this verse which was recited:

Novum vetus vinum bibo,
Novo veteri morbo medeor.
I drink new and old wine,
I cure new and old disease.

This is the third and final day of the Thesmophoria in Greece.

October was the eighth month of the old Roman calendar and was sacred to the goddess Astraea, daughter of Zeus and Themis. The name October comes from Octo, meaning eight (March used to be the first month).

Chrysanthemum Day
One of the five sacred festivals of ancient Japan, celebrated on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month (or the ninth day of the ninth month). People drink chrysanthemum wine (warm sake sweetened and flavored with chrysanthemum petals), eat chrysanthemum cakes and admire chrysanthemum flowers. Often the chrysanthemum viewing goes on throughout the ninth month.

According to Ha, chrysanthemum cakes are dumplings made from mixing yellow chrysanthemum petals with rice flour. Ha also mentions a beverage made of honey water with mandarin oranges, pears, pomegranates and pine-nuts floating in it. You can also make chrysanthemum wine by placing a petal in a cup of sake. You should also place a cup of sake with a complete flower in it on your altar.

Erskine (Japanese Festival and Calendar Lore) records a custom called "cotton nursing of the chrysanthemum" which he observed in 1933. On the eve of the festival, people put cotton wool on the chrysanthemum flowers. The next morning they collected the damp cotton and used it to wipe their bodies. He comments that this shows a desire both to protect the flowers from frost and to use the dew for healing.

In many parts of Japan, people made puppets and scenes entirely out of chrysanthemums. The puppets were slightly larger than life-size, with heads, hands and feet made of wax or paste, but clothes of chrysanthemum petals, grown inside a framework and trained to cover the surface with a velvety coat of petals. Since these figures were expensive to make, often an entrance fee was charged to enter the parks where they were displayed.

The day before Yom Kippur is a time to make reparations. One traditional way of doing this is to sacrifice a chicken--a rooster for men, a hen for women. The fowl is held in the left hand, while the right hand is laid on its head and then it is swung around three times while saying "This is my substitute, this is my exchange, this is my atonement. This fowl will go to death and I will enter upon a good, long life and peace." The chicken is slaughtered, and its liver, kidney and guts put out for the birds. In some places, the meat is given to the poor; in other places, a donation of the cost of the chicken is made instead.

In some places, Kapparot is done with food plants instead of animals. Early in Elul (the month preceding Tishri), children fill baskets with dirt and seeds of wheat, barley, peas and beans. By the eve of Yom Kippur, the plants are a few inches tall, and ready to be swung about the head with the same invocation and thrown into a stream. In other places, it is the custom to take 18 coins, held in a fist over the head of each child, which are then whirled as Kapparot and given to the poor.

During the afternoon, people visit ritual bathhouses to purify themselves for the following day. In many parts of the world, people spend all night in the synagogue praying.


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