The Terminalia is celebrated in honor of the god Terminus, who ruled over boundaries. His statue was merely a stone or post stuck in the ground to distinguish between properties. On the festival the two owners of adjacent property crowned the statue with garlands and raised a rude altar, on which they offered up some corn, honeycombs, and wine, and sacrificed a lamb. It is the traditional end of the Roman year. The rites of the Terminalia included ceremonial renewal and mutual recognition of the boundary stone, the marker between properties. A garland would be laid on this marker by all parties to the land so divided. After kindling a fire, honey-cakes, fruits and wine would be offered and shared, and songs of praise to the god called Terminus would be sung. Terminus was considered to have the appearance of stone and was often honored with the placement of a large stone at the boundaries, much as farmers do today in various countries. With this feast, the year as a whole comes to an end, as the Roman new year began traditionally on March 1st.
"When night has passed, let the god be celebrated With customary honour, who separates the fields with his sign. Terminus, whether a stone or a stump buried in the earth, You have been a god since ancient times. You are crowned from either side by two landowners, Who bring two garlands and two cakes in offering. An altar's made: here the farmer's wife herself Brings coals from the warm hearth on a broken pot. The old man cuts wood and piles the logs with skill, And works at setting branches in the solid earth. Then he nurses the first flames with dry bark, While a boy stands by and holds the wide basket. When he's thrown grain three times into the fire The little daughter offers the sliced honeycombs. Others carry wine: part of each is offered to the flames: The crowd, dressed in white, watch silently. Terminus, at the boundary, is sprinkled with lamb's blood, And doesn't grumble when a sucking pig is granted him. Neighbours gather sincerely, and hold a feast, And sing your praises, sacred Terminus: `You set bounds to peoples, cities, great kingdoms: Without you every field would be disputed. You curry no favour: you aren't bribed with gold, Guarding the land entrusted to you in good faith. If you'd once marked the bounds of Thyrean lands, Three hundred men would not have died, Nor Othryades' name be seen on the pile of weapons. O how he made his fatherland bleed! What happened when the new Capitol was built? The whole throng of gods yielded to Jupiter and made room: But as the ancients tell, Terminus remained in the shrine Where he was found, and shares the temple with great Jupiter. Even now there's a small hole in the temple roof, So he can see nothing above him but stars. Since then, Terminus, you've not been free to wander: Stay there, in the place where you've been put, And yield not an inch to your neighbour's prayers, Lest you seem to set men above Jupiter: And whether they beat you with rakes, or ploughshares, Call out: "This is your field, and that is his!"' There's a track that takes people to the Laurentine fields, The kingdom once sought by Aeneas, the Trojan leader: The sixth milestone from the City, there, bears witness To the sacrifice of a sheep's entrails to you, Terminus. The lands of other races have fixed boundaries: The extent of the City of Rome and the world is one." - Ovid, Fasti II
"Why is it that they were wont to sacrifice no living creature to Terminus, in whose honor they held the Terminalia, although they regard him as a god?
Is it that Romulus placed no boundary-stones for his country, so that Romans might go forth, seize land, and regard all as theirs, as the Spartan said, which their spears could reach; whereas Numa Pompilius, a just man and a statesman, who had become versed in philosophy, marked out the boundaries between Rome and her neighbours, and, when on the boundary-stones he had formally installed Terminus as overseer and guardian of friendship and peace, he thought that Terminus should be kept pure and undefiled from blood and gore?" - Plutarch, "The Roman Questions" 15
"It is fitting to relate also the incidents that preceded the building of it as they have been handed down by all the compilers of Roman history. When Tarquinius was preparing to build the temple [of Iuppiter Optimus Maximus] he called the augurs together and ordered them first to consult the auspices concerning the site itself, in order to learn what place in the city was the most suitable to be consecrated and the most acceptable to the gods themselves; and upon their indicating the hill that commands the Forum, which was then called the Tarpeian, but now the Capitoline Hill, he ordered them to consult the auspices once more and declare in what part of the hill the foundations must be laid. But this was not at all easy; for there were upon the hill many altars both of the gods and of the lesser divinities not far apart from one another, which would have to be moved to some other place and the whole area given up to the sanctuary that was to be built to the gods. The augurs thought proper to consult the auspices concerning each one of the altars that were erected there, and if the gods were willing to withdraw, then to move them elsewhere. The rest of the gods and lesser divinities, then, gave them leave to move their altars elsewhere, but Terminus and Juventas, although the augurs besought them with great earnestness and importunity, could not be prevailed on and refused to leave their places. Accordingly, their altars were included within the circuit of the temples, and one of them now stands in the vestibule of Minerva's shrine and the other in the shrine itself near the statue of the goddess. From this circumstance the augurs concluded that no occasion would ever cause the removal of the boundaries of the Romans' city or impair its vigour; and both have proved true down to my day, which is already the twenty-fourth generation." - Dionysius of Halicarnassus, "Roman Antiquities" III.69