Saturday, February 25, 2006

Ante Diem VI Kalendas March

Modern Date : February 24th

Ante Diem VI Kalendas March
Sixth Day to the Kalends of March

This is one of the Dies Nefasti a day on which no legal action or public voting could take place.

The Regifugium
Little is known about this holiday except that it was a festival for men, not gods, and symbolized the end of the old year. The old Roman New Year began on March 1st (Mardi Gras or Carnival). Speculation suggests this was considered an unlucky day, or a taboo day for pursuing any kind of business, perhaps because the gods could not be consulted.

Regifugium translates as "Flight of the King" and on this day Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of Rome, was driven out of of the city after he raped Lucretia, the wife of a noble.

On this day, the Roman king "ran for office," pursued by an eager band of would-be usurpers who, if they caught him, could dethrone and kill him. In later times this ritual was purely ceremonial but it was, as Frazer writes, "a relic of a time when the kingship was an annual office, awarded along with the hand of a princess, to the victorious athlete or gladiator who therefore figured along with his bride as a god and goddess in a sacred marriage to ensure the fertility of the earth by homeopathic magic."

According to the first Roman Calendar, this was one of the two days of the year when the rex sacrorum, or high priest, would appear in a public ceremony in the Forum. He would perform sacred rites and trumpets, the purified Tubilustrum, would be blown to herald his arrival in the Comitium.

On this day in 138 AD, Antoninus Pius was adopted as co-regent by Hadrian.

February is sacred to Mars and to Juno, also called Saturnia. Known as Hera by the Greeks, she was the daughter of Cronus (Saturn) and regarded as a paragon of motherly virtues. She was the divinity of sacred marriage and childbirth, and was prone to violent wrath at every violation of her marriage bed with Zeus.

St Matthias
Also known as the "thirteenth apostle," because he replaced Judas, St Matthias was supposedly beheaded with an axe, thus becoming the patron of woodcutters and carpenters.

It is said that if there is sharp frost on his day it will last several days. Another weather proverb says:

Matthias breaks the ice, if he finds it;
If he does not break it, he makes it all the harder.

A good day for honoring any carpenters you know, for making a bookshelf or beginning a wood-working project. Also maybe a good day to go ice-skating. Then again maybe not.


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