Friday, December 13, 2013

A Roman Holiday - Christine Elaine Black

A Roman Holiday
Christine Elaine Black

The Roman festival of Saturnalia, in honor of the deity Saturn, was celebrated on December 17th and ran until approximately December 23rd. Opening celebrations began with a sacrifice at Saturn's Temple and a banquet for the public, followed by private gift-giving, lots of parties and a generally festive mood. One interesting fact is role-reversal where the master of the house became the servant for part of the day.

The New Year celebration, Dies Natalis Sol Invictus, took place on December 25th and marked the birthday of the sun.

Celebrating in the Roman way continued well into the 4th century and as Christianity spread through the empire many of the traditions and customs of the Romans helped shape our current Christmas and New Year celebrations as we know them today. For example the usually reserved Roman may discard his plain toga in favor of more colorful clothing, gambling and dice playing were permitted, and rampant eating and drinking were acceptable. Gifts tended to be everything from the costly to the readily available to anyone who wanted to give a gift. You may receive a toothpick or a new slave depending upon the giver's wealth. Gag gifts were popular too!

One interesting fact: Human-shaped delicacies were popular and this may have lead to the idea of the gingerbread man! Romans certainly knew how to throw a party.

I'd like to wish all the readers and visitors to The Wild Rose Press a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas and holiday season no matter what you celebrate with your family. It's such a special time of year.

Hugs to all!
Christine Elaine Black

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1 comment:

Debra St. John said...

Hmn? Interesting about the gingerbread men!

We're heading to a holiday party tonight where a gag-gift exchange is the highlight of the night. Can't wait!