Ancient Roman Festivals, Celebrations and Holidays (Fg–K)

Updated on April 8, 2020
Haunty profile image

Haunty is a history buff who enjoys reading and writing about ancient history and cultures from around the world.

Ancient Rome was home to a diverse array of holidays, many of which existed to celebrate various deities.
Ancient Rome was home to a diverse array of holidays, many of which existed to celebrate various deities. | Source

This article lists and explains important ancient Roman festivals, holidays and celebrations in alphabetical order from Fg to K. Each occasion is described in more detail below. Links to articles listing the celebrations from A to Fe, L to O and P to Z can be found at the bottom of this page.

Ancient Roman Festivals and Holidays Fg–K

  • Floralia: Honored Flora, the goddess of flowers and gardens
  • Fornacalia: Honored Fornix, the god of ovens
  • Furrinalia: Honored Furrina, a goddess associated with spring
  • Hilaria: Honored Cybele, the "mother of the gods"
  • Ides: Denoted the middle of the month
  • Juno Caprotina: Honored Juno, the goddess of women and marriage
  • Juturnalia: Honored Juturna, the goddess of wells and springs

This is a depiction of a Roman Floralia festival. The goddess Flora is pictured in the center.
This is a depiction of a Roman Floralia festival. The goddess Flora is pictured in the center.

Floralia

Celebrated: April 27th–May 3rd

Floralia is an ancient Roman festival that was observed in reverence of Flora, the goddess of flowers and gardens. Originally instituted in 238 B.C.E., Floralia became a movable feast—its date depended on the condition of the crops and flowers, so it could be held any time around the end of April or beginning of May.

In 173 B.C.E., after severe weather conditions destroyed a number of cornfields and vineyards, the Roman Senate declared that Floralia was to be celebrated for six days every year. The six days spanned from April 27th, the anniversary of the founding of Flora’s temple, through May 3rd. In ancient Roman tradition, the first person to place a garland or wreath on Flora's statue in the temple was to be blessed with good fortune in the following months.

During the course of Floralia, celebrants often participated in wild and licentious behavior. The games, dances and dramatic performances were very often lewd, with courtesans purportedly performing mimes in the nude. The obscenity of the festivities likely had something to do with their pagan origins. Many of the festival's unofficial traditions found their roots in pagan fertility rites carried out to promote the fruitfulness of the earth. Upon the holiday's introduction to Rome, citizens found it to be an excellent excuse for excessive drinking and odd behavior.

The festival originally involved the decoration of small statuettes with flowers by children and is today considered to have been the origin of Christian May Day celebrations. Modern May Day celebrations often include dolls or images of the Virgin Mary being decorated with flowers by young revelers.

This illustration depicts Fornacalia, a feast of cakes and ovens in ancient Rome.
This illustration depicts Fornacalia, a feast of cakes and ovens in ancient Rome.

Fornacalia

Celebrated: Prior to February 17th

The Fornacalia festival, also called the "Feast of Ovens," was held before February 17th, which was the day of the Quirinalia festival—a celebration of the ancient Roman god Quirinus. Fornacalia was devised to benefit the ovens, or "fornices," that were used to parch grain and placate the goddess Fornix who presided over them. During the one-week holiday, many households made offerings by creating cakes out of wheat flour, roasting them in the oven and then crushing them in ancient mills.

Fornicalia rituals were carried out mainly by the curiae, or Roman tribal divisions. The holiday was celebrated on several different days in February—one day was assigned to each of the curiae and one was assigned to the state. We know from Ovid that those uncertain about which curia they belonged to observed the festival on February 17th, when a general offering of cakes was made by the whole of the community.

Furrinalia celebrated the Furrina, a goddess associated with the spring.
Furrinalia celebrated the Furrina, a goddess associated with the spring.

Furrinalia

Celebrated: July 25th

Furrina, sometimes spelled Furina, was an ancient Roman goddess associated with the spring. According to some scholars, she was seen as a spirit of the darkness, while other experts insist she was a deity honored mostly by robbers. The only certain fact about her existence is her possession of a grove on the slopes of the Janiculum and a ridge near the Tiber River.

The Furrinalia festival was originally observed by the deity's own priest, called the Furrinalis, on July 25th. Although the goddess Furrina is considered an integral part of only the earliest of Roman religions, the Furrinalia holiday continued to be celebrated in later times. In the grove of Furrina, the Roman tribune Gaius Sempronius Gracchus ordered his slave to kill him in 121 B.C.E.

This sculpture depicts the goddess Cybele and her human lover, Attis, in whose honor Hilaria was celebrated.
This sculpture depicts the goddess Cybele and her human lover, Attis, in whose honor Hilaria was celebrated. | Source

Hilaria

Celebrated: March 25th

The Hilaria festival was held in honor of Cybele, the "mother of the gods," and a human named Attis every year on March 25th. An ancient Roman legend has it that Cybele fell in love with Attis. At first, Attis displayed similar feelings, but then his attention shifted to a human female. Cybele's wrath was terrible, and she made Attis go insane. After he finally took his own life, flowers sprang up from his blood, and his body became a tree. The Hilaria holiday was celebrated with joy and merry-making to commemorate his resurrection.

This ancient Roman calendar lists ides, nones and calends.
This ancient Roman calendar lists ides, nones and calends.

Ides

Celebrated: Various

The best-known use of the term "ides" is in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, in which he refers to the day of Caesar's assassination as "the ides of March." In the ancient Roman calendar, the Ides fell on the 15ths of March, May, July and October and on the 13ths of the other months. The Roman emperor Julius Caesar was murdered in 44 B.C.E. on the Ides of March—that is, the 15th of March.

In ancient Rome, people identified a particular day in the month by relating it to the upcoming ides, calends or nones. For instance, "five days before the ides of May" meant May 9th, as the ides in May fell on the 15th day. Calends refers to the 1st day of the month. From those, the days of the preceding months were counted backward with the order of the days in every month proclaimed on the calends. For instance, "the fifth of the calends of May" meant April 28th—the fifth day before the 1st day of May.

The Greeks never used the term, which is the reason that the phrase "on the Greek calends" is used to mean "never." On occasion, the term calends was used to mean settlement day because the 1st of the month was often a day during which the previous month's debts were settled.

The nones occurred on the 9th day before the ides. In March, May, July and October, with the ides falling on the 15ths, the nones fell on the 7ths. In all other months, the nones fell on the 5th or 13th days.

The Triad Capitolina, pictured above, consisted of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
The Triad Capitolina, pictured above, consisted of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.

Juno Caprotina

Celebrated: July 7th

Juno was the ancient Roman goddess of women and marriage. She controlled every aspect of the lives of women, sexuality and childbirth included, and functioned as a guardian angel for all women.

Juno was the highest deity in the Roman pantheon next to Jupiter—her brother and husband. She shared a temple on the Capitoline Hill in Rome Jupiter and Minerva. Together, the three were known as the "Capitoline Triad." The temple contained the holy birds of Juno (her geese), whose cackling, as reported by Plutarch, saved the Romans from the Gauls in 390 B.C.E.

Juno Caprotina (also known as Nonae Caprotinae) and Matronalia were the two highest festivals honoring Juno. Juno Caprotina holiday was celebrated under a wild fig tree in the Campus Martius, or "Field of Mars," which is a floodplain of the Tiber River.

The calends, or 1st days of each month, were sacred to Juno. The goddess was the equivalent of the Greek Hera and was also connected to the ancient ceremony of declaring the dates of the nones at the new moon. The month of June, named after the goddess Juno, is still the most popular month for getting married.

Juturna, for whom Juternalia was celebrated, was turned into a fountain near the river Numicus.
Juturna, for whom Juternalia was celebrated, was turned into a fountain near the river Numicus.

Juturnalia

Celebrated: January 11th

Juturnalia was a festival held by men who worked on aqueducts and wells to honor Juturna, the goddess of fountains, wells and springs. Virgil talks about Juturna as the sister of Turnus, king of the Rutuli. In return for her virginity, the god Jupiter gave her immortality.

According to Virgil, Juturna was turned into a fountain near the Numicus, the river where Aeneas’ dead body was found. The waters of Jaturna were used in sacrifices, especially those in reverence of the goddess Vesta, for their curative powers. Jaturnalia was also observed at the Vulcanalia on August 23rd when people celebrated her as a protector against fire.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Haunty profile imageAUTHOR

      Haunty 

      9 years ago from Hungary

      Hello drbj! It caught me by surprise, too, when I read up on it. Thanks for popping in. :)

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      9 years ago from south Florida

      Thanks for this fascinating information, Haunty. I always thought the Ides meant the 15th of every month, not just March. I now stand corrected. Thanks for the education.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, holidappy.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)