The very first festival of the year is one held in honor of women, particularly mothers. In ancient Rome, the holiday of Matronalia or the “festival of women” was celebrated each year on March 1st. This festival was held in honor of the Goddess Juno Lucina, who watched over married women and women in childbirth. Gifts were offered to Juno and the women, and everyone treated the ladies exceptionally well on this day. Matronalia is like the women’s version of Saturnalia.
Juno Lucina is the Goddess of newborn infants. She is the Goddess of Birth, the goddess who aids women during pregnancy and brings their child into the light. Women who were going into labor soon would make offerings to her for a safe delivery of her baby. Whenever a Roman child was born, by a royal decree of Rex Servius Tullius, the parents would make an offering to the Temple of Juno Lucina (usually a coin), then the child’s name would then be added to the records of all births in the city. Juno Lucina was also called upon by newlyweds to help them successfully conceive a child.
Juno Capitolium, the Goddess of the sanctity of marriage vows and marital relations was another Goddess called upon by new brides and wives.
Juno Lucina is not the same goddess as Juno Capitolium, but they do, however, concern two aspects of being a wife and mother.
In the Middle Ages, those who had moved away from home would return on Matronalia to their old hometowns to visit their families and also their mother church. Servants would also be given the day off to return to their homes and they were also allowed to pick flowers from their masters’ gardens to bring to their homes. This is how the custom of bringing one’s mother some flowers on Mother’s Day began.
Later on, Matronalia evolved into being called Mother’s Day in Europe. The celebration was also moved to the fourth Sunday of Lent. In the United States, Mother’s Day falls in the month of May, and is held to honor of the humanitarian work carried out by women during the Civil War.
In honor of Matronalia, you can set up your altar to honor the Goddess Juno and all the important women in your life. You can decorate it with pictures of Juno, candles representing each special woman in your life, and yellow roses. You can use the roses later on, to make rose water for anointing purposes.
Each candle should be inscribed the name of the person or deity represented carved into it using the Theban alphabet.
In the evening, light the candles to meditate and give thanks to the women in your life.
It has been custom ever since for husbands to shower their wives with gifts on Matronalia. Stuff like chocolates, flowers, and jewelry were given by the husbands to celebrate their matriarch in the household. The children would also offer their own gifts of their own for their mother.