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Liberalia

(17 March)

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

A statue showing a young Roman boy
Roman boy wearing a toga praetexta with an amulet around his neck to protect him from charms

Liberalia was a Roman holiday celebrated on March 17 in honour of Liber Pater and the goddess Libera. The cult of god Liber Pater was initially associated with horses and grain, was associated with vegetation and fertility of nature, and with rites associated with the production of wine. Later, Liber was identified with the Greek Dionysus.

Liber, together with Ceres and Libera, belonged to the so-called plebeian triad, which was built a temple in Rome on the Aventine during the war with the Latinos. The temple was consecrated in 493 BCE for the consulate of Spurius Cassius, three years after the vow of its construction by the dictator Aulus Postumius.

On the feast day, the Romans made sacrifices, made processions, sang songs and hung masks on trees. The festival aimed to celebrate the symbolic transition of a young man into adulthood, aged 15-16. Then the boy solemnly removed his amulet – bull praetexta – from his neck, made of gold or leather, and given to him by his parents to protect him from charms. The young man laid the amulet on the altar with his hair from the head or facial hair and gave it to Larom – guardian deities of homes and families.

The time of Liberalia was also a period of freedom of expression.

Sources
  • Jaczynowska Maria, Religie świata rzymskiego, Warszawa 1987
  • Zieliński Tadeusz, Religia Rzeczypospolitej Rzymskiej

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