Saturnalia in mid-December honors the agricultural god, Saturn. As one of the most popular of Roman festivals, its influence spread across the Western world for hundreds of years.
It derives its traditions from old farming rituals of mid-winter and the winter solstice. These rituals included offering sacrifices or gifts to the gods during the winter sowing season.
The history of Saturnalia is incredibly interesting. During this holiday, work and business all stopped, schools were closed, and all norms were essentially thrown out the window. The ancient Romans decorated their homes with wreaths and replaced their traditional clothes with bright, colorful togas. Perhaps the most interesting part was that even slaves were not completely relieved of any of their duties during Saturnalia. They joined everyone in participating in the festivities, in fact, they often sat at the head of the table while their masters served them. The holiday was spent singing, eating, socializing, gambling, and gift giving. It’s written in ancient Roman poetry as “the best of times.”
HOW TO OBSERVE #Saturnalia
If you want to know the best way to observe this one… it’s simple. Celebrate Saturnalia! Get friends and family together for a feast, games, and joyous celebration, and of course, use #Saturnalia to post on social media and show others how you choose to mark this week. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you celebrate Saturnalia.
- Wear green and gold, as these are the official colors of the holiday.
- Decorate, and don’t go light on the ornamentation! Cover doorways, walls, and even staircases with twinkly lights or streamers.
- Make cookies in the shape of moons and stars.
- Drink the festive drink of Saturnalia – a mixture of honey and wine.
- Invite all friends and family to join.
- Hand out small goodies as your guests come and go.
- Have a great time!
The exact year is unknown, but Saturnalia is said to have been celebrated since around 217 BC.