Io, Saturnalia!

Today is the first day of the Saturnalia, a Roman festival honoring the agricultural god Saturn. The first Saturnalia was held in 497 BCE for the dedication of the Temple of Saturn in Rome. An annual festival commemorating the dies natalis (anniversary) of this event was held on December 17. The celebration proved so popular that it was extended to three days, then to an entire week, from December 17 to 23.

The age of Saturn was a mythical era when crops grew without human toil, and humanity lived in harmony with nature and each other. This was recalled in the Saturnalia celebration with the reversal of normal societal roles: bosses gave bonuses to their employees, masters served meals to slaves and servants, children were permitted to attend theatrical performances and to gamble.

Other elements of the celebration of Saturnalia include garlands and wreaths of holly and evergreens, candles, decorations of stars and sparkly, metallic ornaments, food and drink, games, gatherings of friends and family, giving gifts.


Featured Image: Roman banquet by Joseph Coomans, 1876. Public Domain. Source: Wikimedia Commons (X) My caption in Latin: I wish you the best Saturnalia!

4 Comments Add yours

  1. I’m really off…I had not consulted my calendar, and thought that Saturnalia began on this past Saturday the 15th, and was then wondering why all of my math with the other dates seemed to be not working quite right…!?! Well, I have been sleep-deprived with getting grading done, so perhaps it is excusable…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. honorthegodsblog says:

      You’re not alone in starting Saturnalia on the 15th. Not sure why, but I’ve been seeing it enough that it made me question my calendar, too. Maybe it’s just that we need it so badly!


      1. Very likely…

        Also, if Saturnalia started on a Saturday, that would also make some amount of sense…but then that would sort of defeat the purpose of having it start on a particular day in the calendrical month…it isn’t Arbor Day, after all! 😉


        1. honorthegodsblog says:

          OTOH, the birth of Mithras is always on December 25, plus it’s a national holiday…(⌒▽⌒)


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