Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Ante Diem XVI Kalendas Februarias

Modern Date : January 17th

Ante Diem XVI Kalendas Februarias
Sisteenth Day to the Kalends of February

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

The Festival of Felicitas
This day was set aside to honor Felicitas, the goddess who personified Good Fortune, happiness, or felicity. One temple in Rome was dedicated to this goddess, according to Cicero and Suetonius.

On this day in 395 AD the emperor Theodosius died and left the empire to this two sons. Arcadius, who was 18, took control of the Eastern empire while Honorius, who was 10, took control of the Western empire.

Columella says of this day, "The Crab finishes setting: the weather is wintry."

This month is sacred to Janus, the god of Beginnings. The Romans had numerous temples to Janus. Whenever war was declared, the chief magistrate would lead a ceremony in which the doors of the main temple of Janus were opened. In time of peace they were normally shut.

The last day of Pongal is known as Kanyapongal. Coloured balls of the pongal are made and are offered to birds. A kind of bull-fight, called the 'Jallikattu' is held in Madhurai, Tiruchirapalli and Tanjore in Tamil Nadu and several places in Andhra Pradesh. Bundles containing money are tied to the horns of ferocious bulls, and unarmed villagers try to wrest the bundles from them. A Bullock Cart race and cock-fight are also held. In Andhra Pradesh, every household displays its collection of dolls for three days. Community meals are held at night with freshly harvested ingredients.

Among the Yoruba people of Africa and the Santeria communities of the Americas, this day is sacred to Ogun, the masculine orisha of strength, stamina and determination.

St Anthony and the Blessing of the Animals
St Anthony was a 3rd century hermit who was tormented with temptations. Because he made baskets, he is the patron of basket-makers and because he buried St Paul the Hermit, he is the patron of gravediggers as well. It’s less clear why he’s the patron of domestic animals but so he is.

On his feast day, domestic animals are cleaned and decorated and brought to churches to be blessed. In modern day Italy, even automobiles, viewed as modern beasts of burden, might be blessed on this day. In Mexico oxen, burros, horses and other beasts of burden are rubbed down and decorated with ribbons and garlands. Sheep, dogs, cats, chickens, even parrots and birds, are brought to the parish church to be sprinkled with holy water. In some rural communities, people even bring bags of worms and harmful insects which are blessed to keep them from hurting the crops.

St Anthony is usually always pictured with a pig. In some parts of Italy, the community buys a pig that belongs to the community and is allowed to run freely. The pig is marked with a notch in the ear or a bell around the neck as the pig of St Anthony. Although this animal is much indulged throughout the year, its fate ends in January when the person who wins it in a lottery gets to take it home and turn it into meat. The price the animal fetched is used to purchase the next year's pig. Carol Field(Celebrating Italy) relates this custom to the sacrifice of pregnant sows to Ceres and Mother Earth.

In Italy, this day was often called Festa del Porco, the day of the pig, because it coincided with the arrival of the special pig butcher. People feasted on dishes of pork — cracklings, chops, livers, salami, prosciutto, sausage, blood pudding — dishes of beans, which symbolize the underworld and death, and chestnuts, which represent fertility.

In Greece, this is considered the start of carnival season. Women visit each other in the evenings, play games and tell bawdy jokes.


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