Compitalia

The Compitalia or Ludi Compitalicii was a festival celebrated once a year in honor of the Lares Compitales, deities of the crossroads, to whom sacrifices were offered at the places where two or more ways meet. The word comes from the Latin compitum, a cross-way.

The festival was led by slaves and in later years by freed slaves. During the celebration of the festival, each family placed the statue of the underworld goddess Mania at the door of their house. They also hung up at their doors figures of wool representing men and women, accompanying them with humble requests that the Lares and Mania would be contented with those figures, and spare the people of the house. These figures seem to have been created in lieu of human sacrifices. Slaves offered balls or fleeces of wool instead of human figures. Garlic and poppies were offered at crossroads as well.

Compitalia was a moveable festival whose date was set by the government each year. It was always in winter and has been recorded as occurring sometime after Saturnalia.

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