Date(s) - 13/02/2020 - 22/02/2020
The Parentalia is a period for honouring the dead. This period consists of two festivals: Feralia and Caristia. The observance of this festival is mainly one celebrated by families at home or at places honouring the dead. It is a key date within the sacra privata of a Roman. The Parentalia provided a quiet period of remembrance, in which the living respectfully and lovingly carried out duties to the friendly dead. The commemoration was primarily that of the dead relatives and especially of parents and siblings.
The All Souls Days on Christian calenders were inspired by the Parentalia.
Parentalia starts on the sixth hour after sunrise and lasted either to sunrise on the 22nd. During this period all temples were closed, no
fires burned on the altars, marriages were forbidden, and the magistrates laid aside their insignia.
On the first day of the Parentalia, a Vestal Virgin performed ceremonies in honour all of the Roman dead. A particular focus at this time was a libartion performed by a Vestal to Tarpeia. Since the Vestal Virgin Tarpeia betrayed the Capitol to the Sabines in 752BCE, and as punishment she was executed by being thrown from the Tarpeian Rock, libations were offered to her restless spirit at her tomb. Such libations were likely made as a means of also recalling the virtues of family loyalty and evils of greed. Qualities not demonstrated by Tarpeia thus bringing shame to all Romans. It is probable that this act served as a reminder for all Roman families to honour their family dead and recall that material possession are fleeting as death comes to all.
Ovid describes the days as a gentle reunion and holiday time. Since the dead were buried outside the city, groups of mourners would go out to visit their family tombs and there perform their sacra privata. The offerings were normally simple: ‘a wreathed with votive garlands, a sprinking of corn, a few grains of salt, bread soaked in wine, and some loose violets’.