Ante Diem IV Kalendas January
Modern Date : December 28th Market Day
Ante Diem V Kalendas January
Fifth Day to the Kalends of January
This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.
In Greece this was known as Arachne's Day. Arachne was a princess of Lydian Colophon, famous for its purple dyes. She was so skilled in the art of weaving that Athena herself could not compete with her. In a vengeful rage, Athena turned her into a spider.
The Christians claim that on this day King Herod, old, ill, and dying, slaughtered all the first-born male children in Bethlehem in an attempt to prevent the "newborn king" from growing up and taking away his throne 18 years or so later, long after he would be dead. Herod died in 4 BCE. Josephus wrote a detailed biography of Herod that included all of his achievements, family intrigues, and his embittered death. Josephus describes Herod's "monstrous" plan to slaughter the innocent leading men from all the major towns of Judea so as to ensure mourning upon his death. The order was prevented from being carried out by his wife. Josephus conspicuously makes no mention of what would have been a greater crime, the slaughter of innocent male children. The similarity of these incidents suggests the latter myth was an embellishment of the former incident by Christian raconteurs.
Decima, the middle Fate in charge of the present, presides over December, but the month may have received its name as the tenth month of the Roman calendar. Vesta, patroness of fire also laid claim to the month of December.
Celtic Festival of Wine and Pleasure
Gwyl o Gwin a Hyfrydwch, the Festival of Wine and Pleasure, begins at sundown and continues until December 31st. Also in Celtic and other ancient European traditions, this is considered the unluckiest day of the year, when no work should be done, no new enterprises should be started, no new approaches made.
The Taoists celebrate Ta Chiu, a festival of peace and renewal by summoning all their gods and ghosts to the temple to accept offerings. The priests read off a list of all the people in the area at the end of the festival and attach it to a paper horse. When burned, the names are carried to heaven by the smoke.
Holy Innocents Day
This day commemorates the Holy Innocents, the infant martyrs killed on the orders of King Herod, who was determined to find and destroy the Christian Messiah who had reportedly been born three days earlier.
All of the two-year old boys who were massacred by Herod in his attempt to kill the rumored Messiah who had been born in Bethlehem, were declared martyrs by the early Christian church and are considered the patrons of choir boys.
In medieval English cathedrals, a choir boy was dressed up as the bishop on this day, in a reversal of roles similar to that found in Hari No Kuyo (December 12) and Saturnalia (December 17). Like the Lord of Misrule, who rules at Saturnalia (and again on Twelfth Night, January 6), the Boy Bishop ordered around his superiors and made fun of their authority. Mock Masses were celebrated which were full of bawdiness and rowdiness. Eventually the Church suppressed these customs. According to Matthews(The Winter Solstice: The Sacred Traditions of Christmas), the Boy Bishop was elected on St Nicholas Day (December 6) and ruled until Holy Innocents Day.
Traditionally this is the unluckiest day of the year, and the day of the week on which it falls is unlucky throughout the coming year. Since it is a day of bad omen, don't do anything new on this day, like starting a new project or wearing new clothes.