This is the day when dawn
receives our saffron cakes
in her sacred temple.
This is the day which honors the bond
between sisters and the freedom of all women.
There is no slavery today at the threshold
of the temple. Today all women
are joined in the joys of motherhood;
for we hold up, not our own, but
our sister's children to the sun.
- Ovid, Fasti
Did you know that in ancient times, before the modern calendar was implemented, March 1 was the first day of the New Year? Makes sense that spring would actually be the start of the year when flowers are blooming, chicks are hatching, and new life is bursting forth.
In ancient Rome, this was the day of the Matronalia, when motherhood was celebrated. The whole community would turn out and have a feast in honor of mothers at the shrines to the ancient goddess known as Mater Matuta.
In Greek myth she was called Eos, the rosy-fingered goddess of the dawn, who rose each day from her home at the edge of Oceanus. Aunts and uncles would hold up their small nieces and nephews to the rising sun, to honor her spirit and bless the children. The female slaves were given the day off and their masters served them.
Offerings of wine were made to this beautiful winged goddess of light. This was a day of celebrating women, sisterhood, fertility, and the circle of life.
On this day, we are reminded to appreciate the goddess in each of us--the woman, daughter, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, girlfriend, wife--who exist on an inner level as well as those who surround us in the external world. The sacred feminine has many faces. The Great Wheel turns, leaving behind the cold days of winter and moving us closer to the warmth of spring and summer. Raise a glass tonight in honor of the Great Mother and the Dawn of a New Day.