Saturday, November 12, 2005

Idus November

Modern Date : November 13th

Idus November
The Ides of November

This day is for special religious observance.

This day is sacred to Jupiter and the goddess Feronia. Feronia is a terrestial goddess of fertility often identified as Juno (Hera) or Saturnia, the wife of Jupiter. She is the deity who represents Plenty or Abundance. Hera was recognized as the divinity of marriage and childbirth. She was queenly and full of prerogative. Being self-willed, proud, and sometimes deceptive, she sometimes provoked Zeus to anger. The image of Hera in later times became the model for the Statue of Liberty in the United States.

On this day a banquet was held in honor of these deities on the Capitoline. This festival is the only one celebrated this month and included feasting, games, music, singing, dancing in the streets and wine-drinking.

This day is the dies natalis for the temples of of Feronia, Fortuna (Fortune) and Pietas (Piety or Holiness).

November is the ninth month (after March) and is a lucky month which is almost free of religious obligation.

The bull running at Stamford
Until 1839, the November 13 bull running was a colourful tradition of the town of Stamford, Lincoln, England. The butchers of the town would purchase a wild bull for the purpose, and the shops would all be closed. In a kind of opposite ceremony to the famous bull running of Pamplona, Spain, the hapless creature was turned out of the alderman’s house, whereupon the villagers ran after him with their bull-clubs.

According to ancient tradition, the sport went back to 1209, the time when William, Earl of Warren, in the time of King John, saw two bulls fighting for one cow. A butcher of the town, who owned one of the bulls, accidentally set one of his mastiffs upon his own bull which forced it into the town and all the dogs ran after it.

This caused such a commotion in the town that the earl gave the butchers in perpetuity the meadows in which the bulls were found fighting, as long as the butchers each year on this day put a mad bull into the town to be chased. A man in a barrel with both ends removed was rolled up to the animal to taunt it, and the bull would usually toss it.

The bull was driven to the local bridge by the locals, who for the day were known as ‘bullards’. Where the populace press in upon him and tumbled him into the water. At night the animal was slaughtered and his carcass sold cheaply to the poor.

Even before the rights of children were fully protected in the English-speaking world, there were laws for the protection of animals. In 1833 the SPCA started its campaign against the spectacle and in 1836 prosecuted several people for “conspiring to disturb the peace by riotously assembling to run and torment a bull”. In 1838 the Home Secretary determined to stop the custom, and sent in a large number of dragoons to stop it. A riot ensued, with injuries on both sides.

In 1839 a stronger force was sent to Stamford. The cost of the police and military was placed on the shoulders of the citizens, so the next year they discontinued the ancient tradition. For years afterwards, the townspeople would cry out “Bull! Bull!” whenever they packed out the local theatre, and would not cease until their old Bullards’ Song was played.

The bull running was on or around Martinmas, and might have pagan Horned God (Kernunos) associations.


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