Monday, December 12, 2011

Io, Saturnalia!

Time for a post on my War On Christmas! Today's topic is Saturnalia, the Roman winter solstice holiday!
Saturn eating his offspring.
Saturnalia is the celebration of Saturn, the youngest of the Titans and the father of the Greco-Roman pantheon, most importantly Jupiter. The holiday was started around 217 BC to raise citizens morale after a crushing defeat by the Carthaginians. Originally celebrated on December 17th, it soon became very popular and went to a week long celebration ending on the 23rd, despite Augustus's attempts to shorten it to 3 days and Caligula's attempts to shorten it to 5 (both of which resulted in citizens rioting).

To celebrate Romans would untie the ropes on the statue of Saturn that usually bound him the rest of the year. The traditional greeting for the holiday was 'Io, Saturnalia!" (pronounced ee-oh), which means "Ho, Glory to Saturn!" They would wear a garb called a synthesis, which was informal wear and very colorful, and the pileus, or freedman's hat, because Saturnalia was a relaxed holiday. The colors they would wear were golds and greens. They would decorate live trees (they didn't cut them down and bring them indoors) with garlands and gold decorations of moons, stars, and suns. It was also a time where the social order was reversed. Slaves would often be forgiven instead of punished, and sometimes they would be given a feast by their masters. Though this sounds nice, it wasn't quite as it sounds. Often the slaves would prepare the meal and their master's, be served by their master, then have to clean up. It was very controlled role reversal. It was also a week where everyone drank heavily and exchanged small gifts, such as candles, clay figurines, and poems.
This is the pileus.
So let us join in drunken merriment this December 17th-23rd, Io Saturnalia!

Also, I wan to include this somewhat related video showing how effective the War On Christmas has been.


  1. Io Saturnalia and Blessed Yule!

  2. Situated at the fringe of short distance to city, Sant Ritz at Potong Pasir (Singapore) in District
    13. the interlace condo