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Friday, June 6, 2014

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Vestalia

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Vestalia is the ancient Roman festival to Vesta-the virgin goddess of family, hearth and home. The festival actually begins on the 7th of June and last until the 15th. On the first day of the festivities it was the only time women were allowed to make sacrificial offerings at the sanctum within Vesta’s temple. The importance of Vesta to Roman religion is indicated by the prominence of the priesthood devoted to her, the Vestal Virgins, Rome's only college of full-time priests. [read more here]

For the celebration of Vestalia, the Vestales made a sacred cake, using water carried in consecrated jugs from a holy spring. The water was never permitted to come into contact with the earth between the spring and the cake, which also included sacred salt and ritually prepared brine as ingredients. The hard-baked cakes were then cut into slices and offered to Vesta. During the eight days of the Vestalia, only women were permitted to enter Vesta's temple for worship. When they arrived, they removed their shoes and made offerings to the goddess. At the end of Vestalia, the Vestales cleaned the temple from top to bottom, sweeping the floors of dust and debris, and carrying it away for disposal in the Tiber river. Ovid tells us that the last day of Vestalia -- the Ides of June -- became a holiday for people who worked with grain, such as millers and bakers. They took the day off and hung flower garlands and small loaves of bread from their millstones and shop stalls.
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