Held annually on June 11 in ancient Rome, the Matralia was a festival pertaining to mothers, children, and childbirth, conducted in reverence of Mater Matuta (Latin, "Ripening Mother" or "Morning Mother"), the indigenous Roman goddess held responsible for the ripening of grain, who the poet Lucretius also regarded as the goddess of sunrise, and who was later syncretised with Greek Leucothea, a sea goddess responsible for delivering sailors from death by drowning. Her temple at Rome was at the Forum Boarium, the level area of land near the river Tiber and nestled between the Capitoline, Palatine, and Aventine hills. A larger and more famed temple to her was at Satricum, and notably during a battle between the Latins and Antiates in 377 BCE, the Latins burned the whole of Satricum, save only the temple, which they left untouched out of reverence.
Customs of the Matralia included special restrictions on what persons could participate, and the manner of their participation. Only free women who were currently in their first marriage were allowed to participate in decorating Mater Matuta's statue in the temple, and they were permitted to offer prayers on behalf of the children of their sisters (in this context defined as any women of the same generation, born or adopted into their same household, which included freed former slaves), and they were not to pray for the sake of their own children. Slave women, women in their second marriage and unmarried women, and men, would reportedly be slapped on their cheek and turned away at the door of the temple, upon attempting to enter during Matralia. Votive offerings were made at the temple of Mater Matuta, in the form of terra cotta figurines depicting swaddled babies, mothers with children, and models of the human body's internal organs. Sacred cakes called testuacia were cooked in testu, simple earthenware cooking pots regarded as symbolic wombs, and offered to the goddess.
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