also called MATRONA´LES
FE´RIAE, a festival celebrated by the Roman matrons on the 1st of
March, originally the beginning of the year, in honour of Juno Lucina. It
represented the purity of old Roman life and the sanctity of the marriage
tie: hence it is celebrated only by married women and maidens, and by a law
of Numa, “pellex aram Junonis ne tangito” (Gel. 4.3
). It commemorated the dedication of the temple to Juno
Lucina on the Esquiline, B.C. 375, soon after the Gallic occupation (Plin. Nat. 16.236
). It kept in memory,
too, the first Roman marriages with the Sabine women and the peace which
they brought about (Ov. Fast. 3.229
offering was made in the houses of married people with prayers that the
married life might prosper, in which the caelebs
could have no part (Hor. Od. 3.8
). At this festival wives received presents
from their husbands (Suet. Vesp.
19; cf. Plaut. Mil.
3.1, 97), and they gave a feast to female slaves, as their
husbands did to male slaves on the Saturnalia (Macrob. 1.12, 7). Hence it is
called the Saturnalia of women (Mart. 5.84
). Girls also received, at least in
later times, presents from their lovers (Tib. 3.1
; Mart. l.c.
is perhaps the reason why Martial (9.90
) speaks of the day as though it were sacred to
Venus. (Compare Marquardt, Staatsver waltung,
iii. p. 571;
Preller, Röm. Myth.