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Related to Terminalia: Terminalia arjuna, Terminalia chebula


Type of Holiday: Ancient
Date of Observation: February 23
Where Celebrated: Rome, Italy
Symbols and Customs: Boundary Stones


Terminalia was part of ancient Roman religion, which scholars date back to the sixth century B . C . E . Roman religion dominated Rome and influenced territories in its empire until Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity in the third century C . E . Ancient Roman religion was heavily influenced by the older Greek religion. Roman festivals therefore had much in common with those of the ancient Greeks. Not only were their gods and goddesses mostly the same as those in the Greek pantheon (though the Romans renamed them), but their religious festivals were observed with similar activities: ritual sacrifice, theatrical performances, games, and feasts.

Terminalia was a festival to worship Terminus, the god of boundaries. The festival was established by Numa, the second king of Rome. Numa founded a public festival to correspond with farmers' private worship of the spirits that inhabited the BOUNDARY STONES marking their property's borders. Terminalia, as the celebration was called, was probably the basis for a number of later ceremonies that involved marking boundaries, such as Common Ridings Day in Scotland, Beating the Bounds in England (see ASCENSION DAY), and the Boundary Walk Festivals (Grenzumgang) held in many German towns.

The terminus or boundary stones marking the outer limits of ancient Rome stood between the fifth and sixth milestones on the road to Laurentum. During the observance of the Terminalia, property owners would gather there or at the boundary stones marking their private lands. Each landowner decorated his side of the stone and helped to build the altar on which a fire would be kindled and sacrifices made. Someone would throw corn from a basket into the fire three times while the others, dressed in white, looked on in silence. The stone was then sprinkled with blood. Afterward, there would be singing and socializing among family members and servants.

On the Capitoline Hill in Rome, an ancient boundary stone was located in the temple of Jupiter. The stone was placed under an opening in the roof so that it could be worshipped under an open sky as farmers had traditionally done. How Terminus came to be associated with Jupiter is uncertain. But according to legend, when Jupiter was to be introduced into the Capitoline Temple, all of the gods made way for him except Terminus, who insisted on sharing Jupiter's space. Another theory is that the temple was erected on the site of an ancient boundary stone that was so sacred it couldn't be moved.


Boundary Stones

The stones that marked the boundaries of privately owned property in ancient Rome were regarded as the dwelling place of numina, spirits that can be traced back to very primitive times. These spirits helped to promote good relationships among neighbors and to keep strong territorial feelings under control. Their purpose can perhaps best be summarized by a line from the American poet Robert Frost: "Good fences make good neighbors."

Certain rites were carried out every time a boundary stone was put in place. Fruits of the earth, honey, and wine, along with the bones, ashes, and blood of a lamb or a suckling pig, were placed in a hole located where property owned by two or three farmers converged. A stone or a stump of wood was then rammed down on top of these offerings and fixed in place. The fact that sacrificial blood was considered essential to the ritual indicates just how important it was.


Fowler, W. Warde. The Roman Festivals of the Period of the Republic. New York: Macmillan Co., 1925. Henderson, Helene, ed. Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. 3rd ed. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 2005. Hole, Christina. English Custom & Usage. 1941. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1990. James, E.O. Seasonal Feasts and Festivals. 1961. Reprint. Detroit: Omnigraphics, 1993. Lemprière, John. Lemprière's Classical Dictionary. Rev. ed. London: Bracken, 1994. Scullard, H.H. Festivals and Ceremonies of the Roman Republic. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1981.
Holiday Symbols and Customs, 4th ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2009


February 23
In ancient Rome, February 23 marked the end of the year and was therefore an appropriate time to honor Terminus, the god of boundaries and landmarks. The terminus, or boundary stone marking the outer limits of Rome, stood between the fifth and sixth milestones on the road to Laurentum. During the observance of the Terminalia, property owners would gather there—or at the boundary stones that marked their private lands—to place garlands around the stone and offer sacrifices. Afterward there would be singing and socializing among family members and servants.
Ceremonies that involve marking boundaries are common in England and Scotland as well ( see Ascension Day and Common Ridings Day).
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 129, 493, 1106
DictRomRel-1996, p. 221
FestRom-1981, p. 79
OxYear-1999, p. 89
Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Predominant trees include Milicia spp., Entandrophragma cylindricum, Triplochiton scleroxylon, Khaya spp., Antiaris toxicaria, Terminalia superba, Funtumia elastic Coastal savanna Region Greater Accra District/ (c) Shai Osudoku; (d) Ga West municipality Sampled Adusa, Akramanman, communities Ayikai Doblo, Ayikuma, Sota, Dodowa.
[ClickPress, Wed May 15 2019] The market for terminalia extract is expected to witness enormous opportunities in emerging economies of APEJ owing to increasing government investments in providing better healthcare facilities.
Costus afar is commonly referred to as ginger lily/bush cane while Terminalia ivorensis is commonly called idigbo, black afara, framire or emeri.
Wing bicoloured, orange at the base and blackish at the tip; darkening of the wing apex reaching discal cell or nearly so; male terminalia as fig.
Toma and Guimaraes (2000) suggested that Proparachaeta and Proparachaetopsis might be related genera based on shared similarities of the male terminalia, such as cercus beak-shaped in lateral view, aedeagus with broad acrophallus and basiphallus slightly bent upward, and hypandrial arms fused, but Proparachaeta differs from the latter by parafacials bare on basal two-thirds, postpronotal lobe with three basal postpronotal setae almost in line and one weaker anterior postpronotal seta usually in front of inner postpronotal seta, surstylus in lateral view almost straight throughout its length with margins slightly parallel-sided and apex rounded, and pregonite tapered subapically (for comparison see Toma and Guimaraes 2000: Figs.
Male sixth through eighth abdominal segments completely retractable within the anterior part of the abdomen, gonocoxite and gonostylus of male terminalia extremely prolonged and thin; ovipositor elongated and protractible, cercus with simple setae.
Terminalia were dissected out of the abdomen and placed in KOH (10%) and boiled for ten minutes.
Meanwhile at the coastal restoration programme with Pekan district community today, 500 pine and terminalia catappa (ketapang) trees were distributed to be planted along a 184.31 stretch from Cherating to Rompin.
Terminalia alata Heyne ex Roth Saj Combretaceae Cleistocalyx operculatus (Roxb.) Kyamuna Myrtaceae Meer.
A 2016 study highlighted a natural plant extract, called Terminalia bellerica, that can effectively lower uric acid blood levels without the side effects associated with prescription drugs.