Every summer, when heat arrives, the Opera house of Rome…
My dear readers, as promised, here is our next appointment of full immersion into Ancient Roman life, and we will talk about famous roman feasts-Saturnals.
Let’s suppose you want to know when the fun is in Rome. Well you could have some good time nowadays but real fun was during Ancient Rome Period while celebrating what they used to call Saturnalia.
The Saturnalia was a festivity offered to the God…Saturn of course, and officially was celebrated on December 17 and, in Cicero‘s time, lasted seven days, from December 17-23. Augustus limited the holiday to three days and Caligula extended it to five. Nevertheless , everyone continued to celebrate for a full week in practice because when fun begins is not easy to stop. Catullus describes it as "the best of days,"
Saturn was identified with Kronos. The Temple of Saturn, the oldest temple recorded by the pontiffs, had been dedicated on the Saturnalia were a sacrifice and banquet was performed. You can see today the columns remaining from that temple in the forums area.
During the holiday, all restrictions were relaxed and the social order almost inverted. So by that, gambling was allowed in public. Slaves were permitted to use dice and did not have to work! Instead of the toga, less formal dinner clothes were allowed. Slaves were treated as equals, permitted to wear their masters’ clothing, and be waited on at meal time.
Now hear what Lucian tell us about the party "During My week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of frenzied hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water—such are the functions over which I preside."
Saturnalia was an occasion for celebration, visits to friends, and the presentation of gifts, particularly wax candles (cerei), possibly to signify the returning light after the solstice.
If a time of relaxing and enjoy, the season also was at the same time an occasion for murder. Few examples: the Catiline conspirators intended to fire the city and kill the senate on the Saturnalia, when many would be preoccupied with the festivities. Commodus was strangled in his bath on New Year’s eve while Caracalla plotted to murder his brother. Just part of the Roman habits.
By the end of the first century AD, Statius proclaims: "For how many years shall this festival abide! Never shall age destroy so holy a day! While the hills of Latium remain and father Tiber, while thy Rome stands and the Capitol though has restored to the world, it shall continue" The Saturnalia continue to be celebrated as Brumalia (from the term bruma, winter solstice) reaching the Christian era, finally, by the middle of the fourth century AD, its rituals had become absorbed in the celebration of Christmas. Dear friends, pack your luggage and come to Rome to explore and learn and to PARTY!!! My suggestion for your stay in Rome is YES Hotel, located just near the station, and my suggestion to get a deeper knowledge about Saturnalia is a book of
So long, my dears, and to be continued…