The New Year, or novus annus, was celebrated by decking the house with branches for the Kalends of January. (Prior to 153 BC, the new year began on the first of March.) In addition, small gifts called strenae were exchanged. These originally took the form of sacred twigs or boughs from the grove of Strenia, the goddess of health and physical vigor. Other gifts included dates, figs, or honey so that, according to Ovid, the year might go in sweetness as it had begun. Wax tapers and oil lamps, tied up with bits of holly, were also considered appropriate gifts to light the way in the coming year.
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