Ceres, in Roman mythology, equivalent to the Greek Demeter (which see for more details), daughter of Saturn and Rhea, wife-sister of Jupiter, mother of Proserpina, and patron of Sicily.
Ceres was the goddess of growing plants (particularly grain) and of motherly love. She is said to have been adopted by the Romans in 496 BC during a devastating famine, when the Sibylline oracles advised the adoption of the Greek goddesses Demeter, Kore (Persephone) and Iacchus (possibly Dionysus).
She was personified and celebrated by women in secret rituals at the festival of Ambarvalia, held during May. There was a temple to Ceres on the Aventine Hill in Rome. Her primary festival was the Cerealia or Ludi Ceriales ("games of Ceres"), instituted in the 3rd century BC and held annually on April 12 to April 19. The worship of Ceres became particularly associated with the plebeian classes, who dominated the corn trade. Little is known about the rituals of Cerelean worship; one of the few customs which has been recorded was the peculiar practice of tying lighted brands to the tails of foxes which were then let loose in the Circus Maximus.