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January calends – new year in ancient Romans

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

January calends - new year in ancient Romans
January calends - new year in ancient Romans

Ancient Romans, on various occasions, but mainly during the January calendars, wished each other happiness with expressions of kindness and exchanged gifts. Ovid mentions that the Romans gave themselves gifts, mainly dates, figs, and honey. In addition, there were also cash gifts.

Ancient Romans originally celebrated the beginning of the New Year during the solstice of day and night, in spring. In 153 BCE the celebrations were moved to 1st of January. At that time, the Romans exchanged jars full of dates, figs and honey – it was to be a sign that the new year was to be sweet and happy.

Today, this tradition is continued in Naples, where celebrators exchange figs wrapped in bay leaves, and in Campania and Abruzzo, where fried figs with almonds are served.

More about New Year in ancient Rome

  • Fredouille Jean-Claude, Słownik cywilizacji rzymskiej, Katowice, 1996
  • McWilliams Mark, Celebration: Proceedings of the Oxford Symposium on Food and Cookery 2011

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