This month: December

December derives its name from Latin decem or ten, since it was the tenth month of the earlier Roman calendar. The first day or Calends is dedicated to Juno, the Nones are on the 5th and the Ides, sacred to Jupiter, are on the 13th. The 2nd, 6th and 14th days of the month are considered atri or unlucky. The first Wednesday is dedicated to Mercury, the 19th day to Minerva and the 21st to Ingui.

December 5: Faunalia
The traditional festival in honour of Faunus. It has been suggested that just as Juno was honoured on the Calends and Jupiter on the Ides of every month, Faunus was the focus of similar attention on the Nones, which, as far as we’re told, remained without a tutelary deity. Whatever the case, at least December’s Nones are dedicated to Him and, after last year’s experience, I decided to add Faunus’ feast to my religious calendar.

I’m not yet sure what to do during it. December is not the best of months for long walks on the fields and raising heaps of stone as altars to the god, so I’ll be focusing on indoors activities and let the weather determine the chances of doing things outdoors. At the very least, a formal ceremony is in order, where, as with Silvanus and Saturn, the offerings will be collected in a bowl with fresh soil. A few pranks are also a possibility.

December 17-24: Saturnalia
Io, Saturnalia! This one is almost self-explanatory, given that it’s one if not the most popular ancient Roman festival. Its length varied, from anywhere between three to seven days in the late Republic, and I added one more day so as to include the 24th and the modern gift-giving, as that was also a traditional Saturnalia practice. On the 17th, I perform a formal ceremony to Saturn and place His statue at the centre of the dining table, decorated with wreaths, balls and candles and offer Him daily portions of incense until the 24th. A personal tradition of mine, which predates my adoption of the Religio Romana, is the baking of walnut muffins I then offer to my friends on nocturnal door-to-door walks between midwinter’s eve and the 24th. I incorporated the practice in my Saturnalia celebrations and every year I give Saturn one of the first muffins I bake (Ingui-Freyr gets one, too). Besides that, it’s a party, people! Bring on the goods and move that body!

December 20-22: Dies Natalis Inguis
I’ve been celebrating the solstices since my early days as a pagan. By far one of my favourite moments of the year, I came to join midwinter and midsummer with my oldest standing religious devotion and so both solstices became associated with Ingui-Frey in my personal practice. The meaning wasn’t hard to come by: while in summer I honour Him as king and full-grown lord, in winter I celebrate His birth, taking a page from the ages-old symbolism of the shortest day of the year. December 21st (occasionally the 20th) is therefore the Day of Ingui’s Birth and the celebration lasts three days, from the eve to the day after. It includes a festive meal, a formal ceremony, decorations with abundant golden and green tones, boars, suns and pine, the usual marking of sunset and sunrise with a blowing horn, toasting and maybe something on an open field, if the weather permits.

December 31: Eventalia
My feast in honour of Bonus Eventus. It’s when I thank Him for any moment of luck He may have been responsible for throughout the year and promise to repeat the ceremony and offerings if He grants me and my family renewed luck during the upcoming year. As part of the celebration, I clean up the house and remove old wreaths and other organic offerings from home shrines, thus disposing of the old before concluding the year with offerings to Bonus Eventus. It’s a sort of lucky ending before a (hopefully) lucky start on January 1st.

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