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Romans, though you’re guiltless, you’ll still expiate
your fathers’ sins, till you’ve restored the temples,
and the tumbling shrines of all the gods,
and their images, soiled with black smoke.
~Horace, Odes, III, 6; A. S. Kline trans.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Roman New Year

These are some suggestions for having a Roman New Year:
  • Clean your lararium on New Year's Eve, so that it is ready for the new year. Decorate it with flowers.
  • Make offerings to your Lares and to Juno, but first to Janus.
  • Whatever your livelihood, make a token start of it on New Year's Day. Students take up a book and read for a few moments. Carpenters tap a nail. Whatever your business, resolve to have a prosperous year, with the help of the immortal gods.
  • Guard your words, offer good wishes and prosperity to all. Avoid dire words.
  • Give gifts of sweet dried fruits and honey, or other similar sweets, such as honey dipped cookies.
If you are the resolving type, why not resolve to make at least a simple observance at your lararium twice a month, on the Kalends and on the Ides?
"The worship of Juno claims our Italy's Kalends
While a larger white ewe-lamb falls to Jupiter on the Ides." - Ovid, Fasti I
Cato the Elder's instructions for the vilica, (the wife of the overseer of the farm) probably reflect the duties that fell upon the materfamilias of every family: "On the Kalends, Ides and Nones, and any holy day, place a garland over the hearth and pray to the household gods as opportunity offers" (Cato, De Re Agricultura 143).

The Kalends and Ides rituals are a great way to start being active in the sacra privata of the Cultus Deorum, if you have not done so already.

If you are yet to set up a lararium, we have an updated guide for setting up a lararium. My personal opinion is that you should make your initial offerings, maybe incense, wine, bread, flowers, - ask the Lares to protect your household. Be attentive for signs of their acceptance. I think that your display of pietas is more important than fancy ritual or formality.

"Two-headed Janus, source of the silently gliding year,
The only god who is able to see behind him,
Be favourable to the leaders, whose labours win
Peace for the fertile earth, peace for the seas:
Be favourable to the senate and Roman people,
And with a nod unbar the shining temples.
A prosperous day dawns: favour our thoughts and speech!
Let auspicious words be said on this auspicious day."

Ovid, Fasti, translated by A.S. Kline.

Di te incolumem custodiant!

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