Cardea, the Roman goddess of the door-hinge

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Cardea was a goddess of handles, hinges, and health in Roman mythology.

She was also connected to the wind. She protected children from witches while she was also the benefactor of artisans. The festivals of Beltane and June, which were regarded as the year’s symbolic hinges, were key occasions for her devotion in ancient Rome. In honor of her, masks, balls, and figures were hung from trees or entrances to promote the growth of grain. The hawthorn tree was consecrated to Cardea. According to Ovid, she could open what was closed and close what was open. She was originally the nymph Carna until Janus gave her power over handles and hinges and the title of protector of children.

The calendar designated Carna’s feast day as nefastus, which meant that it was a public holiday on which no assembly or court may meet. The day became known as the Kalendae fabariae, or Bean-Kalends, since mashed beans with lard, a delicacy that may be related to refried beans or hoppinjohn, were served to her as res divinae. This is because the bean harvest ripened on this day. In addition to being a significant food crop in ancient Greece and Rome, beans also possessed a variety of magical and religious powers.

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