Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension: This is the day when the Ascension of the Emperor to the Golden Throne and His apotheosis is celebrated. This holy day is celebrated with much feasting in the Emperor’s honor along with prayers for his blessings for the faithful and punishment of sins and trespasses against Him on December 1st of each year. If the Imperium is ever in a state of war it will always seek not to encage on this holy day to properly observe the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension.
Holiest day of the Imperial Calender. It is common across the Imperium that different temples and sects arrange great processions and corteges to hallow the day. When different groups converge during the day their meeting have variable results. Sometimes two converging groups greet each other with blissful testaments of faith, sometime conflict arises and accusations of heresy and apostasy escalate to bloody riots. Nobility also has accustomed to arranging great parties with excessive service and entangling intrigue.
17-23 Imperalia in honor of God-Emperor’s sacrifice
Pilgrims gather to place where mortal part of Divine God-Emperor made sacrifice for the greatness of the Imperium.??
Eponalia is celebrated in honour of Saint Epona
Her heraldric banner depicts a horsewoman killing a serpent-tailed (“anguiforme”) daemon, in which she established a theme of victory over daemons.
Commander Epona’s sovereign role evolved into a protector of Imperial guard. The cult of Commander/Saint Epona was spread over of the Imperium by the cybernetic cavalry, initiated by the Tupelov lancers or cyber-equites singulares augustii recruited from The Old Hundred.
Opalia: a festival honoring the founding of Adeptas Sororitas.
Sanguinalis: Primarch Sanguinious is very important in the Imperial Cult, and is the most revered icon other than the Emperor himself. The other primarchs do not reach this level of adoration. There already are other angel like entities such as the Living Saints, but Sanguinious is held above them all, so they certainly revere him as the greatest of the Emperor’s sons.
Anniversary of foundation of the Palace of the Emperor.
The last day of Imperalia and the holiest days of pilgrimate routes accross Terra. Marks a date of Astronomicon reaching full power and lighting up the galaxy. Commemoration journey ends at the outer gates of the palace of the god-engine. Ecclesiarchy (Sect ?) celebrates this as a day when warpstorms that caused Age of Strife abated and a new powerful leader called the Emperor of Mankind emerged.
Dies Natalis Solis Victi (“Birthday of the Unconquered Sun”) 31th day
-Commonly called Candlemass
-Marks the end of the year.
Song sung during Candlemass: “Holy Triumph of the Golden Throne”
Brumalia 31th day
Life on Terra, during pre-imperial antiquity, centered on the military, agriculture, and industry. The short, cold days of winter would halt most forms of work. Brumalia was a festival celebrated during this dark, interludal period. It was pre-Imperial in character and associated with crops, of which seeds are sown in the ground before sprouting.
People would sacrifice cattle to a deity erased from the historical records. Vine-growers would sacrifice ptera-squirrels in honor of It—for the ptera-squirrel is an enemy of the vine; and they would skin them, fill the skin-bags with air and jump on them. Civic officials would bring offerings of firstfruits (including wine, olive oil, grain, and honey) to the priests.
Although Brumalia was still celebrated as late as the 36th millenia, it was uncommon and celebrants were ostracized by the Ecclesiarhy (Sect: Temple of the Saviour-God). However, some practices did persist as scattered traditions
In later times, Nobility of the Imperium would greet each other with words of blessing at night, “Vivet in adventu anno”, “Live for a coming year”.
Saints, martyrs, primarchs, institutions, temples
- 1 (Kalends): From 153 BC onward, consuls entered office on this date, accompanied by vota publica (public vows for the wellbeing of the republic and later of the emperor) and the taking of auspices. Festivals were also held for the imported cult of Aesculapius and for the obscure god Vediovis.
- 3-5: most common dates for Compitalia, a moveable feast (feriae conceptivae)
- 5 (Nones): Dies natalis (founding day) of the shrine of Vica Pota on the Velian Hill
- 9: Agonalia in honor of Janus, after whom the month January is named; first of at least four festivals named Agonalia throughout the year
- 11 and 15: Carmentalia, with Juturna celebrated also on the 11th
- 13 (Ides)
- 24–26: most common dates for the Sementivae, a feriae conceptivae of sowing, perhaps also known as the Paganalia as celebrated by the pagi
- 27: Dies natalis of the Temple of Castor and Pollux, or perhaps marking its rededication (see also July 15); Ludi Castores (“Games of the Castors”) celebrated at Ostia during the Imperial period
In the archaic Roman calendar, February was the last month of the year. The name derives from februa, “the means of purification, expiatory offerings.” It marked a turn of season, with February 5 the official first day of spring bringing the renewal of agricultural activities after winter.
- 1 (Kalends): Dies natalis for the Temple of Juno Sospita, Mother and Queen; sacra at the Grove of Alernus, near the Tiber at the foot of the Palatine Hill
- 5: Dies natalis for the Temple of Concordia on the Capitoline Hill
- 13 (Ides): minor festival of Faunus on the Tiber Island
- 13–22: Parentalia, a commemoration of ancestors and the dead among families
- 15: Lupercalia
- 17: last day of the feriae conceptivae Fornacalia, the Oven Festival; Quirinalia, in honour of Quirinus
- 21: Feralia, the only public observation of the Parentalia, marked F (dies festus) in some calendars and FP (a designation of uncertain meaning) in others, with dark rites aimed at the gods below (di inferi)
- 22: Caristia (or Cara Cognatio, “Dear Kindred”), a family pot luck in a spirit of love and forgiveness
- 23: Terminalia, in honour of Terminus
- 24: Regifugium
- 27: Equirria, first of two horse-racing festivals to Mars
In the old Roman calendar (until perhaps as late as 153 BC), the mensis Martius (“Mars’ Month”) was the first month of the year. It is one of the few months to be named for a god, Mars, whose festivals dominate the month.
- 1 (Kalends): the original New Year’s Day when the sacred fire of Rome was renewed; the dancing armed priesthood of the Salii celebrated the Feriae Marti (holiday for Mars), which was also the dies natalis (“birthday”) of Mars; also the Matronalia, in honor of Juno Lucina, Mars’ mother
- 7: a second festival for Vediovis
- 9: a dies religiosus when the Salii carried the sacred shields (ancilia) around the city again
- 14: the second Equirria, a Feriae Marti also called the Mamuralia or sacrum Mamurio
- 15 (Ides): Feriae Iovi, sacred to Jove, and also the feast of the year goddess Anna Perenna
- 16–17: the procession of the Argei
- 17: Liberalia, in honour of Liber; also an Agonalia for Mars
- 19: Quinquatrus, later expanded into a five-day holiday as Quinquatria, a Feriae Marti, but also a feast day for Minerva, possibly because her temple on the Aventine Hill was dedicated on this day
- 23: Tubilustrium, purification of the trumpets.
- 24: a day marked QRFC, when the Comitia Calata met to sanction wills
- 31: anniversary of the Temple of Luna on the Aventine
A major feriae conceptivae in April was the Latin Festival.
- 1 (Kalends): Veneralia in honour of Venus
- 4–10: Ludi Megalenses or Megalesia, in honor of the Magna Mater or Cybele, whose temple was dedicated April 10, 191 BC
- 5: anniversary of the Temple of Fortuna Publica
- 12–19: Cerialia or Ludi Cereri, festival and games for Ceres, established by 202 BC
- 13 (Ides): anniversary of the Temple of Jupiter Victor
- 15: Fordicidia, offering of a pregnant cow to Tellus (“Earth”)
- 21: Parilia, rustic festival in honour of Pales, and the dies natalis of Rome
- 23: the first of two wine festivals (Vinalia), the Vinalia Priora for the previous year’s wine, held originally for Jupiter and later Venus
- 25: Robigalia, an agricultural festival involving dog sacrifice
- 27 (28 in the Julian calendar) to May 1: Ludi Florales in honour of Flora, extended to May 3 under the Empire
The feriae conceptivae of this month was the Ambarvalia.
- 1 (Kalends): Games of Flora continue; sacrifice to Maia; anniversary of the Temple of Bona Dea on the Aventine; rites for the Lares Praestites, tutelaries of the city of Rome
- 3: in the Imperial period, a last celebration for Flora, or the anniversary of one of her temples
- 9, 11, 13: Lemuria, a festival of the dead with both public and household rites, possibly with a sacrifice to Mania on the 11th
- 14: anniversary of the Temple of Mars Invictus (Mars the Unconquered); a second procession of the Argei
- 15 (Ides): Mercuralia, in honor of Mercury; Feriae of Jove
- 21: one of four Agonalia, probably a third festival for Vediovis
- 23: a second Tubilustrium; Feriae for Volcanus (Vulcan)
- 24: QRCF, following Tubilustrium as in March
- 25: anniversary of the Temple of Fortuna Primigenia
Scullard places the Taurian Games on June 25–26, but other scholars doubt these ludi had a fixed date or recurred on a regular basis.
- 1 (Kalends): anniversaries of the Temple of Juno Moneta; of the Temple of Mars on the clivus (slope, street) outside the Porta Capena; and possibly of the Temple of the Tempestates (storm goddesses); also a festival of the complex goddess Cardea or Carna
- 3: anniversary of the Temple of Bellona
- 4: anniversary of the restoration of the Temple of Hercules Custos
- 5: anniversary of the Temple of Dius Fidius
- 7: Ludi Piscatorii, “Fishermen’s Games”
- 7–15: Vestalia, in honour of Vesta; June 9 was a dies religiosus to her
- 8: anniversary of the Temple of Mens
- 11: Matralia in honour of Mater Matuta; also the anniversary of the Temple of Fortuna in the Forum Boarium
- 13 (Ides): Feriae of Jove
- 13–15: Quinquatrus minusculae, the lesser Quinquatrus celebrated by tibicines, flute-players in their role as accompanists to religious ceremonies
- 19: a commemoration involving the Temple of Minerva on the Aventine, which had its anniversary March 19
- 20: anniversary of the Temple of Summanus
- 24: festival of Fors Fortuna, which “seems to have been a rowdy affair”
- 27: poorly attested observance in honour of the Lares; anniversary of the Temple of Jupiter Stator
- 29: anniversary of the Temple of Hercules Musarum, Hercules of the Muses
Until renamed for Julius Caesar, this month was called Quinctilis or Quintilis, originally the fifth month (quint-) when the year began in March. From this point in the calendar forward, the months had numerical designations.
- 1 (Kalends): a scarcely attested anniversary of a temple to Juno Felicitas
- 5: Poplifugia
- 6–13: Ludi Apollinares, games in honour of Apollo, first held in 212 BC as a one-day event (July 13) and established as annual in 208 BC.
- 6: anniversary of the Temple of Fortuna Muliebris
- 7 (Nones): Nonae Caprotinae; Ancillarum Feriae (Festival of the Serving Women); sacrifice to Consus by unspecified public priests (sacerdotes publici); also a minor festival to the two Pales
- 8: Vitulatio
- 14–19: a series of markets or fairs (mercatus) following the Ludi Apollinares; not religious holidays
- 15 (Ides): Transvectio equitum, a procession of cavalry
- 17: anniversary of the Temple of Honos and Virtus; sacrifice to Victory
- 18: a dies ater (“black day,” meaning a day of ill omen) marking the defeat of the Romans by the Gauls at the Battle of the Allia in 390 BC, leading to the sack of Rome by the Gauls
- 19, 21: Lucaria
- 20–30: Ludi Victoriae Caesaris, “Games of the Victorious Caesar”, held annually from 45 BC
- 22: anniversary of the Temple of Concordia at the foot of the Capitol
- 23: Neptunalia held in honour of Neptune
- 25: Furrinalia, feriae publicae in honour of Furrina
- 30: anniversary of the Temple of the Fortune of This Day (Fortunae Huiusque Diei)
Until renamed for Augustus Caesar, this month was called Sextilis, originally the sixth month (sext-) when the year began in March.
- 1 (Kalends): anniversary of the Temple of Spes (Hope) in the Forum Holitorium, with commemorations also for the “two Victories” on the Palatine
- 3: Supplicia canum (“punishment of the dogs”) an unusual dog sacrifice and procession at the temples of Iuventas (“Youth”) and Summanus, connected to the Gallic siege
- 5: public sacrifice (sacrificium publicum) at the Temple of Salus on the Quirinal
- 9: public sacrifice to Sol Indiges
- 12: sacrifice of a heifer to Hercules Invictus, with a libation from the skyphos of Hercules
- 13 (Ides): festival of Diana on the Aventine (Nemoralia), with slaves given the day off to attend; other deities honored at their temples include Vortumnus, Fortuna Equestris, Hercules Victor (or Invictus at the Porta Trigemina), Castor and Pollux, the Camenae, and Flora
- 17: Portunalia in honour of Portunus; anniversary of the Temple of Janus
- 19: Vinalia Rustica, originally in honour of Jupiter, but later Venus
- 21: Consualia, with a sacrifice on the Aventine
- 23: Vulcanalia or Feriae Volcano in honour of Vulcan, along with sacrifices to Maia, the Nymphs in campo (“in the field”, perhaps the Campus Martius), Ops Opifera, and a Hora
- 24: sacrifices to Luna on the Graecostasis; and the first of three days when the mysterious ritual pit called the mundus was opened
- 25: Opiconsivia or Feriae Opi in honour of Ops Consivae at the Regia
- 27: Volturnalia, when the Flamen Volturnalis made a sacrifice to Volturnus
- 28: Games at the Circus Maximus (circenses) for Sol and Luna
- 1 (Kalends): ceremonies for Jupiter Tonans (“the Thunderer”) on the Capitolium, and Juno Regina on the Aventine
- 5: anniversary of one of the temples to Jupiter Stator
- 5–19, Ludi Romani or Ludi Magni, “the oldest and most famous” of the ludi
- 13 (Ides): anniversary of the Temple to Jupiter Optimus Maximus; an Epulum Iovis; an epulum to the Capitoline Triad
- 14: Equorum probatio (“Approval of the Horses”), a cavalry parade of the Imperial period
- 20–23: days set aside for markets and fairs (mercatus) immediately following the Ludi Romani
- 23: anniversary of the rededication of the Temple of Apollo in the Campus Martius; Latona was also honored
- 26: anniversary of the Temple of Venus Genetrix vowed by Julius Caesar
- 1 (Kalends): ceremonies for Fides and the Tigillum Sororium
- 3–12: Ludi Augustales, established 14 AD after the death of Augustus, based on the Augustalia
- 4: Ieiunium Cereris, a day of fasting in honour of Ceres, instituted in 191 BC as a quinquennial observance, made annual by Augustus
- 5: second of the three days when the mundus was opened
- 6: dies ater (“black day”) to mark the anniversary of the battle of Arausio (105 BC)
- 7 (Nones): rites for Jupiter Fulgur (Jupiter of daytime lightning) and Juno Curitis
- 9: rites at shrines for the Genius Publicus, Fausta Felicitas, and Venus Victrix on the Capitolium
- 10: ceremonies to mark a rededication of the Temple of Juno Moneta
- 11: Meditrinalia
- 12: Augustalia, celebrated from 14 AD in honour of the divinized Augustus, established in 19 BC with a new altar and sacrifice to Fortuna Redux
- 13: Fontinalia in honour of Fons
- 14: ceremonies to mark a restoration of the Temple of the Penates Dei on the Velian Hill
- 15 (Ides): October Horse sacrifice to Mars in the Campus Martius; also Feriae of Jupiter
- 16: Lupinalia, the Festival of Wolves
- 19: Armilustrium, a dies religiosus in honour of Mars
- 26 to November 1: Ludi Victoriae Sullanae, “Victory Games of Sulla”, established as an annual event in 81 BC
- 1 (Kalends): Ludi circenses to close the Sullan Victory Games
- 4–17: Plebeian Games
- 8: third of the three days when the mundus ritual pit was opened
- 13 (Ides): Epulum Jovis; also ceremonies for Feronia and Fortuna Primigeniae
- 14: a second Equorum probatio (cavalry parade), as on July 15
- 18–20: markets and fairs (mercatus)
- 1 (Kalends): ceremonies at temples for Neptune and for Pietas
- 3: Bona Dea rites for women only
- 5 (Nones): a country festival for Faunus held by the pagi
- 8: festival for Tiberinus Pater and Gaia
- 11: Agonalia for Indiges; also the (probably unrelated) Septimontium
- 12: ceremonies at the Temple of Consus on the Aventine
- 13 (Ides): dies natalis of the Temple of Tellus, and associated lectisternium for Ceres
- 15: Consualia or Feriae for Consus, the second of the year
- 17–23: Saturnalia in honour of Saturn, with the public ritual on the 17th
The following “moveable feasts” are listed roughly in chronological order.
- Compitalia, held sometime between December 17 (the Saturnalia) and January 5; in the later Empire, they were regularly held January 3–5, but Macrobius (5th century AD) still categorized them as conceptivae.
- Sementivae, a festival of sowing honoring Tellus and Ceres, placed on January 24–26 by Ovid, who regards these feriae as the same as Paganalia; Varro may indicate that the two were separate festivals.
- Fornacalia, a mid-February baking festival celebrated by the curiae, the 30 archaic divisions of the Roman people; the date was announced by the curio maximus and set for each curia individually, with a general Fornacalia on February 17 for those who had missed their own or who were uncertain to which curia they belonged.
- Amburbium, a ceremony to purify the city (urbs) as a whole, perhaps held sometime in February.
- Feriae Latinae (Latin Festival), a major and very old conceptivae in April.
- Ambarvalia, purification of the fields in May.
The Rosalia or “Festival of Roses” also had no fixed date, but was technically not one of the feriae conceptivae with a date announced by public priests based on archaic practice.
Festivals were also held in ancient Rome in response to particular events, or for a particular purpose such as to propitiate or show gratitude toward the gods. For example, Livy reports that following the Roman destruction of Alba Longa in the 7th century BC, and the removal of the Alban populace to Rome, it was reported to have rained stones on the Mons Albanus. A Roman deputation was sent to investigate the report, and a further shower of stones was witnessed. The Romans took this to be a sign of the displeasure of the Alban gods, the worship of whom had been abandoned with the evacuation of Alba Longa. Livy goes on to say that the Romans instituted a public festival of nine days, at the instigation either of a ‘heavenly voice’ heard on the Mons Albanus, or of the haruspices. Livy also says that it became the longstanding practice in Rome that whenever a shower of stones was reported, a festival of nine days would be ordered in response.
Another irregular festival of note is the Secular Games. Over the course of several days there were sacrifices, entertainers, and games hosted by the state, attempting to be the greatest display anyone living had ever seen. These games were intended to be held every 100 years with the purpose of it occurring only once in any individuals lifetime. At one point two cycles of the Secular Games were being held simultaneously, leading there to be people who would in fact witness it twice in their life.
The noun mercatus (plural mercatūs) means “commerce” or “the market” generally, but it also refers to fairs or markets held immediately after certain ludi. Cicero said that Numa Pompilius, the semi-legendary second king of Rome, established mercatus in conjunction with religious festivals to facilitate trade, since people had already gathered in great numbers. In early times, these mercatus may have played a role in wholesale trade, but as commerce in Rome became more sophisticated, by the late Republic they seem to have become retail fairs specialized for the holiday market. The Sigillaria attached to the Saturnalia may have been a mercatus in this sense. Surviving fasti record Mercatus Apollinares, July 14–19; Mercatus Romani, September 20–23; and Mercatus Plebeii, November 18–20. Others may have existed. The English word “fair” derives from Latin feria.
“Roman holidays” as trope
By the outset of the nineteenth century and particularly in response to the carnage of the latter years of the French revolution, the term Roman holiday had taken on sinister aspects, implying an event that occasions enjoyment or profit at the expense, or derived from the suffering, of others, as in this passage from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812–18) by George Gordon, Lord Byron:
There were his young barbarians all at play,
There was their Dacian mother—he their sire,
Butchered to make a Roman holiday.”
More benignly, the phrase was used as the title of a romantic movie set in Rome, Roman Holiday.