Bona Dea Festival

Bona Dea Festival

May 1
The ancient Roman festival known as the Bona Dea, or Maia Maiesta Festival, was celebrated only by women; no men were allowed to observe or participate in the festivities. Variously described as the sister, daughter, or wife of Faunus, the rustic Roman fertility god, Bona Dea was a deified woman, a chaste matron who was killed by a suspicious husband. Because she revealed her prophesies only to women, Bona Dea's temple was cared for by women, and all of her rites were restricted to women.
The festival of Bona Dea was observed on May 1, the day on which her temple had been dedicated on the Aventine Hill in Rome. The ceremonies were performed by vestal virgins and a group of very respectable matrons, although the rituals associated with the festival apparently included remnants of phallic worship and the telling of indecencies which were not to be repeated to the uninitiated. The observance of the Bona Dea festival undoubtedly contributed to the Roman belief that May was an unlucky month for marriage.
See also Megalesia and Opalia
SOURCES:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 333
DictFolkMyth-1984, p. 867
DictRomRel-1996, p. 31
FestRom-1981, p. 116
FestSaintDays-1915, p. 110
OxYear-1999, p. 183