Definitions

Matronalia

Matronalia

[mey-truh-ney-lee-uh, -neyl-yuh, ma-]
Matronalia (or Matronales Feriae) was a festival celebrating the goddess of childbirth ("Juno who brings children into the light"). A celebration of motherhood (mater) and of women in general. Prior to the reform of the Roman calendar by Julius Caesar, this was the first day of the new year. It was also shared with the first day of the Feriae Marti.

The date of the festival was associated with the dedication of a temple to Juno Lucina on the Esquiline Hill circa 268 BCE, and possibly also a commemoration of the peace between the Romans and the Sabines. On the day, women would participate in rituals at the temple, although the details have not been preserved other than the observation that they wore their hair loose (when Roman decorum otherwise required them to wear it up), and were not allowed to wear belts or to knot their clothing in any place.

At home, women received gifts from their husbands and daughters, and Roman husbands were expected to offer prayers for their wives. Women were also expected to prepare a meal for the household slaves (who were given the day off work), as Roman men did at the Saturnalia.

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