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Definition: The 21st of April was celebrated by the ancient Romans as Parilia or Palilia. It was a festival for Pales with ritual purification for sheep and shepherds. Ashes from the fordidicia were sprinkled on the sulfur-burning bonfire created for the cleansing. This date was also considered the dies natalis or 'birthday' of Rome.
"The Parilia, as we know it, was essentially a rite of purification which involved the cleansing of sheep and sheep-folds, and the leaping of celebrants over fires of burning bean-straw. Certain februa or purifying agents were used in the ceremony, viz. beanstraw, blood from the October Horse, and the ashes of unborn calves taken from cows slaughtered at the Fordicidia. Among the offerings were cakes of millet and warm milk, and milk was drunk by the worshippers before leaping the flames (Ovid, Fasti 4. 721 ff.)."
Natalis urbis and Principium anni"
Van L. Johnson
Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, Vol. 91 (1960), pp. 109-120.
Ovid describes Parilia in the fourth book of his Fasti.
Source: Adkins and Adkins Handbook of Life in Ancient Rome
Also Known As: Palilia

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