The first day of the year

The legend says that  Numa Pompilius, the successor of Romulus,  in his reform of the Calendar added two months to the  Roman calendar, and fixed the beginning of the year at the first day of the month dedicated to Janus, the God of the doors – janua in Latin, from yana (road) in Sanskrit.

That day Romans used to invite friends and offer them honey with dry dates and figs because “ their taste can arrive in things of life and the year can be sweet as in the beginning.” (Ovidius, Fasti) and laurel twigs, called strenae – this word still means gift In Italian– because these twigs came from a small wood dedicated to the Goddess Strenia, bringer of luck and happiness.

All these herbs are hot and apt to counteract the coldness of the winter.

Laurel fruits and  leaves  – but leaves were more effective-  were used to cleanse the womb and remove the cold causes of infertility, against gout and every stomach problem with a cold nature.

Dates are hot and moist in the second degree. Arabs said that dates have their head in the Sun and their feet in the water. They were used to make the stomach moister.

The Fig was very dear to Romans because they claimed that the She-Wolf suckled the Twins under a Fig-tree, in a place  dedicated to the Goddess Rumina, from Ruma, i.e. breast. (It sounds like something else, doesn’t it?)

Dry figs are hot in the second degree and dry in the first. They warm, stimulate thirst and turn the other humors into the choleric one. They clean lungs and treat coughs.

Honey is hot in the first degree and dry in the second. It has the virtue to save everything from putrefaction, it preserves and purifies.

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