Well, I couldn’t resist. I guess this fell perfectly into place – as today is my birthday, and I haven’t done any “B” posts for the PBP yet, here’s a birthday-centered post!
I’m not one to get very excited about things, and birthdays are no exception. Sure, it’s nice to hear from family and friends, but I tend to see it as just another day. I know that birthdays are supposed to be happy days celebrating life, and it is: but when you celebrate being alive with the little things each day, it’s not as…big of an event, I guess. I’ve been known to forget that it’s my birthday.
And when you’re stuck at university and work literally all day, it kind of takes the fun out of it.
22 years ago today, though, now, that was a different story :]
But even with my whole attitude towards birthdays, I wanted to do something. So, when I started this path a few years ago, I looked up the ancient Roman practices, and really wasn’t surprised by what I found.
They had parties. Lots and lots of parties. The Romans loved a good party.
So then I decided to see if any rituals were done on birthdays in particular. I know that the “birthdays” (or temple dedications) of deities are celebrated, but were there any rituals that people did for themselves?
Women honored their natalis Iuno, or “Iuno of birth”: possibly the goddess Iuno, possibly a guardian spirit like that of a man’s genius. According to Tibullus’ Elegies, they did so by giving a triple offering of liba (cakes made of boiled salted wheat) and a triple offering of wine.
It was typical for a man to honor his genius on his birthday. He would do so by invoking his genius with prayers and vows called bona verba. Then, he would offer up wine and incense onto the fire of the lararium.
So this morning, in the fashion of a traditional offering, I made some simple liba and offered those and some wine to my natalis Iuno. And that’s not all, because today just happens to be the Ides of September, a day sacred to Iuppiter. So He was given some incense, too.
All in all, it turned out to be a fairly long ritual; I’m glad I woke up early this morning o_o