Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Ambarvalia

A rural festival among the Romans for the purification (lustratio) of the country, and for invoking the blessing of Ceres upon the fruits of the earth. At these festivals they sacrificed a bull, a sow, and a sheep, which, before the sacrifice, were led in procession thrice around the fields; whence the feast is supposed to have taken its name, ambio, I go round, and arvum, field. This sacrifice was called a suovetaurilia in Latin. These feasts were of two kinds, public and private

The Ambarvalia furnish one of several instances —the Saturnalia at Christmas being another—of heathen festivals taken up by the Church and adapted to Christian uses. There is a close resemblance to these rites in the ceremonies of the three Rogation Days which precede Ascension Day, occurring nearly at the same time of year. “They were anciently in England called ‘Gangdays,’ because processions went out on those days; hymns and canticles being sung, and prayers offered at various halting-spots or stations for a blessing on the fruits of the earth.” 

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