Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Sometimes I think my blog should be retitled to something gothy, what with all the posts that denote ways of celebrating days involving death or the macabre. Take, for example, recent posts on Charles Addams or Friday the 13th or Edgar Allan Poe, just to name a few. Today is no different.

Lemuralia was a Roman festival celebrated on May 9, 11 and 13. Well, celebrated probably isn't the best word for it. More like participated. They were days designed to rid the home of malevolent or otherwise unwelcome spirits (lemures). It involved the head of the household getting up at midnight and walking barefoot around the house nine times while throwing black beans over their shoulder. A prayer or recitation commanding the spirits to leave was said while other family members banged on pots. It was hoped the beans would please the spirits and they would leave; the pot banging insured they would.

Interestingly, I learned that Pope Boniface IV designated May 13 as the first All Saint's Day. Pope Gregory III moved it to November 1, which coincidentally is the same day as the Celtic feast of Samhain.

It is said that Romulus started Lemuralia as a way to appease the spirit of his murdered brother Remus. Romans honored the lares, their benevolent deceased ancestors, but feared the lemures. A similar feast which honored both lares and appeased malevolent spirits was Parentalia and Feralia.

May was deemed by the Romans to be bad luck for marriages. The Irish, as well, have a saying about that: Marry in May and rue the day. I find this curious due to the practice of *green marriages* that happened on Bealtaine.

You can spend today, of course, walking around the house barefoot and throwing beans over your shoulder, or you can choose instead to eat those beans. I suggest Cuban black beans and rice.

Bang on some pots to be on the safe side. You never know...

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