Culture

Happy Portumnalia: Throw your keys into the fire

 

In ancient Rome, on a day like today, was celebrated as the day of the Portumnalia. For some it is the festival of the maritime ports and the port workers. However, Portumnalia was associated at first with Portunes (AKA Portumnes or Portunus) was a god of keys, doors and livestock. He protected the warehouses where grain was stored.  On the day on which Portumnalia was celebrated keys were thrown into a fire for good luck in a very solemn and lugubrious manner.  Considering that the month of August bears a high likelihood of an apocalypse why not throw some keys into a fire, just in case. You never know.

Considering that in Japan, it is not uncommon to find charms made up of three keys joined together that are believed  to unlock the secrets to wisdom, life and love, it may be wise to throw a three-key ring set into a fire. Of course, be careful when you throw such a key set and do not fall for fake romanticism as Catherine did in Wuthering Heights.  You may recall from your high school days, she locked Edgar and Heathcliff together and threw the key into the fire hoping that somehow her heart would be truly unlocked.  Alas, by throwing the keys into the fire she ended up pushing both men away. What a sad, sad tale of misunderstanding the power of keys.

Growing up in my Puerto Rican household, I knew keys meant more than just door openers.  We had all sorts of superstitions about keys. If we dropped a heavy set, we were to expect visitors.  So, if keys fell, we started prettying up. Nowadays, I am not too sure how many people really visit each other unexpectedly.  Since everything is a pre-arranged playdate unexpected visitors may be something from the 20th century. I wonder if my mom would still hold that key-dropping superstition today. I have to believe she would still be holding onto it as she did all her superstitions.  Dropping a fork still would mean a male was coming over and your palm itching still would mean you were getting money. That is how life was and is in her world.

Many moons ago in eastern Europe,  there was a superstition that a key brought good dreams to the owner and thus a key was hung upside down on the wall over the bed to keep bad dreams away. I wish I had known of that growing up. I could have used that upside down key over me at night. What I did do, however, was keep an upside down broom by the door to sweep out the evil spirits and to keep ill-willed visitors at bay.

2 replies »

  1. To bring you bang up-to-date Mimi. Place an upside down vacuum cleaner by your front door because any evil spirits and ill-willed visitor will see it and say, “Don’t go in there, it sucks !”.

    Happy Sunday my friend 😀 ❤

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