I love to discover arcane, little known facts about the ancient Roman Empire. It’s especially enjoyable to find out about minor holidays. If there is very little known about the holiday and or the deity the holiday honors, I’m even more curious.
That means my curiosity has been piqued by the Meditrinalia festival. My trusty book about Roman history has only a short sentence and a footnote about the holiday. The Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities by William Smith,says this: “Meditrinalia was a festival connected with the cultivation of vineyards that took place on October 11.
On that day the people of Latium began to taste their new wine and to offer libations to Jupiter and other gods. In drinking the new wine, it was customary to pronounce the words: ‘vetus novum vinum bibo, novo veteri morbo medeor’.” The quote literally translates to “Old wine, new drink, a new old heals diseases”.
That makes perfect sense because the common translation of the old quote goes something like, “Wine new and old I drink, of illness new and old I am cured.”
The earliest deity associated with Meditrinalia was Jupiter. The citizens of the agricultural districts believed it was important to test the new wine before it was aged to make certain that it would be perfect for the Vinalia holiday on April 23rd when the serious imbibing took place.
In the later centuries of the Empire, people associated Meditrinlaia with the goddess Meditrina. Some experts claim that Meditrina is the Roman goddess of longevity, health, and wine. Some scholars ascribe her name’s meaning as “healer”.
Meditrina is a relatively more recent creation of the Roman religionists. The only accounts of her existance appear in late Roman texts and artistic works.
The Blue Jay of Happiness hopes that if you celebrate Meditrinalia in the traditional way, you’ll drink in moderation and not operate a vehicle or heavy equipment afterwards.