Mater Matuta was an ancient Italian goddess associated with the early morn, or dawn. Her festival, the Matralia (June 11), was celebrated by Roman matrons at her temple in the Forum Boarium. With one exception, slaves were not admitted, and she would be expelled after being slapped on the cheek. Additional arcane practices characterized the solemnities, but the underlying principle was concerned with the birth and care of children. The matrons took with them the children of their sisters rather than their own and prayed for their welfare. The statue of the goddess was then crowned with a garland by one of the matrons who had not yet lost a husband. The offerings to the goddess consisted of sacred cakes (testuacia) baked in old-fashioned earthenware pots.

 

Matralia

Higgledy-Piggledy
Mater Matuta was
Worshipped by matrons as
Goddess of dawn;
During her festival,
Quasi-maternally,
Each mother prayed for her
Own sister's spawn.

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