Monday, December 19, 2011

Merry Saturnalia!

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn originally held December 17 through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn in the Roman Forum and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves.
The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, its customs obviously influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas.