Parentalia

The Romans originally forgot about Parentalia, maybe because they didn’t have a month of February till 713 BC. This was bad, according to Ovid’s Fasti:

I scarcely believe it, but they say that ancestral spirits
Came moaning from their tombs in the still of night,
And misshapen spirits, a bodiless throng, howled
Through the City streets, and through the broad fields.
Afterwards neglected honour was paid to the tombs,
And there was an end to the portents, and the funerals.

It was a nine day festival, so they had a lot of time to make up for their neglect. Families would walk to their parents’ tombs outside the city, and leave little offerings.

This week all we’re hearing about is love and marriage, but for Ovid this too was a bad thing:

But while these rites are enacted, girls, don’t marry:
Let the marriage torches wait for purer days.
And virgin, who to your mother seem ripe for love,
Don’t let the curved spear comb your tresses.

For all those people wanting a Valentine’s Day wedding anyway, this year was doubly inauspicious – they had to get married today, Friday the 13th, since most marriage bureaus are closed on Saturdays.

And then there’s the issue of that curved spear . . .

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This entry was posted in Celebrations, festivals, memorials. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Parentalia

  1. Pingback: St. Cyril’s Day and Valentines « Celebrating Time

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