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The ancient Romans celebrated four special festivals in the month of May.
The first festival takes place around May 1st and is the Festival of Bona Dea or good goddess. Bona Dea is the goddess of fertility and the goddess of women. Offerings are made to her by women who want to get pregnant, or want a safe childbirth. The ceremonies are held privately in the home by wealthy upper class women. Men are not allowed in the ceremonies. Since men are people who write history, there is no real recorded writing of what went on in a Bona Dea ceremony. Guess you’ll have to use your imagination here.
May 9th is the Feast of the Larvae. Larvae is a term used to describe the spirits of the dead that haunt people and their houses. These spirits are not benevolent spirits. To distract the spirits from harming people, offerings of black beans are made to the spirits. While the spirits are eating, loud noises are made to scare away the spirits. Sounds like a strange tradition to me. My only question is, how do they know the spirits are eating the beans?
May 15th is the Feast of Mercuralia or Mercury. Mercury is the patron god of merchants and commerce. Merchants sprinkle water blessed from a well in Porta Capena. According to Roman tradition, Porta Capena is a sacred place blessed by the gods. The water from this well in Porta Capena would be sprinkled all over the merchants’s familiy, ships, and goods for good luck and profitability.
May 21st is the Feast of Vejovis. Vejovis is the god of healing. Over time, the god Vejovis has evolved to be a god representing the slave class and the defender of justice. However, Vejovis is mainly associated with healing. He’s always depicted with a goat and that’s because an offering of a goat is made every May. The offering is supposed to take the place of a human sacrifice. It’s said that if an offering is made, illness can be prevented.
That’s it for the month of May!