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This feast celebrates the maturation of young boys to manhood though it originally honored Liber Pater, an ancient god of fertility, wine, vegetation and protector of seed and his consort, the goddess Libera.

Parents would place a hollow charm of gold or leather, called the bulla praetexta, around the necks of their small children to ward off evil spirits. When Roman boys reached a certain age, usually around 14, they would remove the bulla praetexta. At the Liberalia ceremony, they would put a lock of hair or first shave stubble inside and place it on an altar and dedicate it to the god, Lares.  The young men also discarded the purple bordered toga praetexta, worn by both male and female children, and donned the pure white toga virilis of adulthood which identified him as both a citizen of Rome and an eligible voter.

Superstitious mothers often retrieved the discarded bulla praetexta and if the son ever achieved a public triumph, the mother could display the bulla to ward off any evil that might be wished upon the son by envious people.