Terminalia: Ancient Rome’s February Festival 🏗
Land Surveying Celebrated at the end of the Roman Year (February 23rd)
What is Terminalia?
February 23rd boasts this festival. It is named after the Ancient Roman God of land boundaries, Terminus. Terminus was portrayed as a stone with no arms or legs, symbolizing the boundary marker between plots of land. This portrayal of Terminus was especially important in emphasizing how the boundaries were binding. The name is derived from the Latin word for such a boundary.
Romans believed that a sacrificial festival must occur at the end of each calendar year, February 23rd, in order to remain on good terms with the god. These sacrifices included adorning the physical terminus (boundary marker) with floral garland and offerings of sweets and other meals. It also included physical sacrifices of lambs or pigs.
The terminus was believed to be the peacekeeper between neighbors. It ensured that there would be no arguing over property lines. Neighbors would meet at their local terminus for this celebration annually. A large feast would then occur! 🍾
Why Celebrate Terminalia?
You may be wondering why a group of land surveyors and civil engineers in the 21st century would want to celebrate an Ancient Roman festival…🤔
The use of terminuses in ancient Rome are the some of the earliest forms of the modern practice of boundary marking with the use of specific objects, markers, or locations. Without the ancient Romans creating a practice of respect between neighbors and foreigners, by placing terminuses between their properties, the art of land surveying may not be where it is today.
While we may not be adorning stone boundary markers or offering sacrifices to a deity, we are celebrating the great history of our profession and the advancements we have made through the centuries. Check out these great resources on Terminalia: