From the Bacchanalia – the Ancient Roman festivals of Bacchus on March 17th to the day of Saint Joseph – the father’s day nowadays on March 19th
How the orgiastic Bacchanalia cult in Rome were converted into the chaste father’s day?
Until 500 AC, on March 17th , the Ancient Romans were used to enjoy the Latin celebration of Bacchanalia in imitation of the orgies of the Greeks for the Dionysian mysteries. This festivity was celebrated in honor of Silinus, the god of wheat, and Bacchus, the god of wine, freedom, intoxication and ecstasy. The Bacchanalia were held in severe privacy, and initiates were bound to mystery.
They seem to have been accepted and even well-organized, more throughout the centre and south of Italy. They were almost certainly associated with Rome’s native cult of Liber Pater («The Free Father») the divine patron of plebeian rights, freedoms and augury.
It was the god equivalent to Dionysus and Bacchus, both of whom were sometimes titled eleutherios (liberator).
Senatorial legislation to reform the Bacchanalia in 186 BC attempted to control their size, organization, and priesthoods, under threat of the death penalty. The reformed Bacchanalia rites may have been merged with the Liberalia festival. Bacchus, Liber and Dionysus became virtually interchangeable from the late Republican era onward.
In Italy, March 19th is the day of Saint Joseph, the father’s day, celebrated with the Saint Joseph’s Fritters (Zeppole di San Giuseppe), fritters filled with pastry cream.
During Bacchanalia the Ancient Romans would consume large quantities of wine and wheat-flour fritters. It is not surprising that the modern St. Joseph’s day often includes those customs.
Would you like to prepare the Saint Joseph’s Fritters? Super simple! Follow our recipe here.
And later, share with us your photos with your own fritters, we would love to see them. Enjoy your Father’s Day!