Paws Romana Volume IV Issue II - Page 7

5 Happy New Year From BLSJCL S omewhere around 8 CE, inter- rupted by his exile, the poet Ovid had been working on a set of twelve books, each focused on a month in the Julian calendar, called the Fasti. Each book is bro- ken into days, each day describing a different Roman tradition, holiday, or astrological occurrence. And so, the first day is the beginning of the New Year, January 1st. Unlike many other ancient cultures, whose New Years began around the time of the spring equinox, Romans celebrated in January, which Ovid explains: “principium capiunt Phoebus et an- nus idem”, or that “Phoebus [Apollo] and the year take the same begin- ning”. In other words, because the winter solstice is the darkest day, Romans therefore took the days afterwards as the beginning of a new sun, which Apollo was said to drive, and a new year. Dedicated to the two-headed god of beginnings, Janus, the first day of the New Year in the time of Ovid was a feast day with a procession, a sacrifice of cattle, and ritualistic pomp. Ac- cording to the poet, a priest would offer cake and spelt, a type of grain, mixed with salt to the god, who would be called Patulcius and Clu- sius (from the words pateo, to be open, and claudo, to close, respec- tively). Although it was a feast day, the Kalends of January was not a holiday from work or official busi- ness, and was instead the begin- ning of a new political year, with “novi fasces”, new rods of office, representing the power of the state, and new consuls. It was common for everyone to wish each other well and for sweets and money to be given as gifts, as the entire day stood as an omen for the year to come. And so, in the Roman tradi- tion, bene, JCLers, volo, I wish you well, JCLers, in this New Year and the years to come. -Anna Aldins, Class I Roman tradition holds that the “New Year” is to be celebrated with a large procession and feast, and celebrates the beginning of a new sun. The New political year began and the new officials were present- ed with their ceremoni- al “fasces” to legitimize their rule. Roman Civilians Participate in a Sacrifice