April for Romans is the time of opening buds. Flowers appear, trees come into leaf, and new crops are coming up. At this time, most of the festivals are centered on honoring the fertility of the land and protecting the crops. The Gods honored are either female or ambiguous. Of the various festivals that I follow are:
VENUS VERTICORDIA and FORTUNA VIRILIS
On April 1, the Veneralia is held. During this festival, women would go where the men are. While they would pray to Venus Verticordia (Venus, the Changer of Hearts) and Fortuna Virilis (Fortune the Bold) for support in their love lives. Later the festival included everyone, married and single, male and female asking these two Goddesses for help in matters of the heart. (Venus is considered the tutelary God of April.)
CERES and TELLUS
From the 12th to the 19th, the Cerialia is held to honor Ceres, Goddess of Agriculture and Gain. The festival is to thank Ceres for the earth’s fertility. Many of the ceremonies of the Cerialia are held in private with the participants wearing white. An Ancient Roman tradition was to set loose foxes with burning torches tied to their tails. (It was believed to drive out diseases of the land.) For Ceres, I usually walk the nearby field three times and offer milk, a traditional offering.
During the Cerialia, the Fordicidia is held on April 15. In Ancient Rome, pregnant cows were sacrificed to Tellus, the Goddess of Productive Power of the Earth, for the fertility of the cattle and fields. The ashes of the unborn calves were burnt and use in the Parilia later in the month. Modern Romans will burn meat and mix it with soil as an offering to Tellus.
On April 21, the Parilia is held. Similar to the Celtic Beltane Festival, the Parilia focuses on the purification of sheep and shepherds. Bonfires are lit and sheep are driven through them. Grain and milk are offered to Pales of Shepherds and Sheep. For this festival, I pray for healthy livestock and put a stuffed sheep between two candles.
Pales is a mystery as to what They are – male or female, plural or singular. This/these ancient Roman God/s are from the time before the Romans were shepherds, which adds to the confusion of who Pales is/are. I prefer to regard Pales as the entirety of all the concepts about Them.
(The Parilia is also considered the Founding Day of Rome.)
To save crops from wheat rust, the Romans sacrificed dogs to Robigus, the God of Wheat Rust during the Robigalia on April 25. Traditionally, red animals were offered at the boundary of Roman territory to ensure protection of the crops from mildew and blight. Today, people offer red wine requesting that Robigus leave the crops alone.
The Floralia, honoring Flora, the Goddess of Flowering Plants, is held from April 27 to May 1. (Fauna, the Goddess of Wildlife, is her Sister.) Coming after the Robigalia, the Floralia affirms the safety of the growing plants from harm. During this time, people adorn themselves and their homes with flowers. They also wear colorful clothing to reflect the emerging flowers. Traditionally, goats and rabbits were set loose in the crowds, while priests threw lupines, bean flowers and vetch about. This was to ensure fertility of everyone and everything.
April 5: The Anniversary of the Temple for Fortuna Publica (Fortune of the State)
April 13: The Anniversary of the Temple for Jupiter Victor (Jupiter Victorious)