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The Media's War on the Saturnalia

Posted by libhom Thursday, December 04, 2008

Here's a lighthearted explanation of the Roman holiday, the Saturnalia, from LAist. In case you don't know, Saturnalia is the holiday that Christmas is based on.

The Romans are often bagged on as being the Borg of the ancient world: assimilating barbarian cultures left and right, stealing the style and grace of the Greeks, tossing the odd Christian to lions. Yet, you must admit they did know how to PARTY, especially during those barren winter months.

In antiquity, the feast of Saturn or “Saturnalia” was celebrated from about December 17th through the 23rd. It was a winter solstice festival in honor of the merry old god of the seed and its sowing, and if he was cranky, the blighting of crops. His fertile wife, Ops, goddess of plenty, was also celebrated around this time. Janus (the two faced fella who gives his name to next month) supposedly started the tradition in remembrance of the Golden Age of Saturn's rule. You know, way, way, way back in mythic times, when everyone was equal and free and the "man" wasn't around to keep us down.

This high spirited festival engendered many of our own holiday traditions such as extravagant feasting, kissing under the mistletoe, lighting candles, wearing silly hats, exchanging gifts and the odd orgy. Woo Hoo!, who needs Christmas?

So this week, why not celebrate the really ancient traditions or at least add a Roman twist to your festivities? Instead of the usual Christmas dealee, I am having some friends over tomorrow for a Saturnalia party. We will feast on decadent finger foods (the ancients didn't believe in forks), drink copious amounts of vino and spirits, and don wreaths or the traditional Saturnalia Phrygian cap, which looks a hell of a lot like a Santa hat. We'll also try our hands at a bit of friendly gambling, as the Roman's encouraged games of chance during Saturnalia time. The odd orgy part? Well, perhaps I'll screen Fellini's Satyricon instead of White Christmas. Then again, my friends are pretty darn odd. Wink!

Why do stores say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Sexy Saturnalia"? Why don't the media acknowledge this important and fun holiday? Why do they keep up with all the pious Christmas stuff when the whole thing is really about food, wine, sex, and temporarily inverting the social order?

This stinks! Where is Bill "Falafel Man" O'Reilly when you really need him?

 

6 comments

  1. Rich Says:
  2. The pagans were so much more fun. The Christians just have to go and ruin everything with their family-friendly bullshit.

     
  3. Jimmy Says:
  4. I like the Celtic/Wiccan Yule too. Pagans are way more fun.

    I saw you over at Strange Relationships regarding Rothko...gave you a shout-out. I just stumbled on that blog this evening.

    I have tried to set up a blog-roll and the function on blogger never works, is there some other way to do it? I see you have it listed as links.

     
  5. Jimmy Says:
  6. I just answered my own question about the links. Thanks Love.

     
  7. Riverwolf, Says:
  8. "Sexy Saturnalia"--I like it! There's also the old pagan "Lord of Misrule" tradition, which sounds like fun. I'm sketchy on the details, but it seems that everyone basically had an excuse to go a little wild with parties, pranks and mischief for a couple of days. Which is how Christmas was actually celebrated for a while and one reason why the Catholic Church banned it for a period of time. Ah, the good ol' days....

     
  9. Christopher Says:
  10. Saturnalia?

    Never heard of it. I first thought this was the chocolate/nut spread that comes in a jar that everyone in Europe eats on toast.

    I had it once in Amsterdam. It tasted good.

     
  11. libhom Says:
  12. Rich/Jimmy: If you take the religious belief out of Paganism, most of what you have left is fun. I like the fun part.

    Riverwolf: Personally, I prefer the orgy of food, wine, and sex to pranks, but to each his own.

    Christopher: You should learn more about Saturnalia, the real Christmas. It's great fun when you want to make fundies pissed off.

     

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