In Ancient Rome, a five or six-day festival of Floralia, in honour of the goddess Flora, began on what is now the 27th or 28th of April. Her name means vegetation, and the goddess of flowers and fertility was one of most honoured deities in Rome. She had a huge temple and her festival was one of the most popular of the year. It was a time of dancing, gathering flowers and wearing bright, multi-coloured clothes (or sometimes no clothes at all).
Flowers, especially lupins, were scattered over the crowds enjoying the festivities to promote fertility – but it was also a celebration of sex for pleasure as well as procreation. There were games, theatrical performances and ceremonies in which sacrifices were made to the goddess. According to historian Ed Whalen: “Some scholars believe that the Floralia was the inspiration for the May Day Festival.”
Flora’s origin storyis told by Ovid: Zephyrus, the West Wind, kissed the nymph Chloris who as a result became deified as Flora. The goddess later helped Juno become pregnant with Mars by giving her a magical flower.
A bit of folklore in Every Day Magic – A Pagan Book of Day also links the end of April to May with weather and flower lore: “Sweet April showers/Do spring May flowers. (From a poem written in 1610)”
Over the last week or so I’ve beeng posting pictures of spring blooms on my blog, and this carries on the theme. If you have a photo of flowers you’d like to share, please leave a comment. In particular, it would be great to see some pictures of lupins if you spot any growing!
The picture at the top is a Jill in the Green I created from flowers and leaves from my garden a couple of years ago.
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