LEMURALIA—Feast of the Lemurs
A festival to celebrate the souls of the dead in ancient Rome. It was said to have been started by one of Rome’s founders, Romulus, to appease the spirit of his twin who he killed before the founding of the city which grew into a legendary empire. There are three days in May where the ghosts of the dead are said to walk the earth. May 9, 11, and 13. Because of May’s association with death, it was considered a particularly unlucky time to marry, hence the popularity of June weddings that last until this day.
Lemures were thought to be wandering spirits who found no peace after death. The Romans were a particularly superstitious people, terrified of ghosts and other monsters, who had no desire to be haunted, so they appeased the spirits by throwing ceremonies intended to help them cross peacefully into Hades.
Because these walking dead were hungry, the master of the house put nine black beans into his mouth and spit them out over his shoulder for the ravenous ghosts to eat. If he did this correctly, his family would be safe from hauntings for the year to come. The rest of the household would then clash bronze pots together, hoping the noise would scare any lingering spirits away.
The temples of the gods were closed and the Vestal Virgins held special rituals in honor of the dead, feeding them salt and wheat cakes.
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