14 Facts About Saturnalia


Saturnalia was the Roman equivalent to the earlier Greek holiday of Kronia, which was celebrated during the Attic month of Hekatombaion in late midsummer.

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The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age.

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The Argive festival of Hybristica, though not directly related to the Saturnalia, involved a similar reversal of roles in which women would dress as men and men would dress as women.

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The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday.

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In one of the interpretations in Macrobius's work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.

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Popularity of Saturnalia continued into the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, many of its customs were recast into or at least influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

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Saturnalia underwent a major reform in 217 BCE, after the Battle of Lake Trasimene, when the Romans suffered one of their most crushing defeats by Carthage during the Second Punic War.

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In two satires set during the Saturnalia, Horace has a slave offer sharp criticism to his master.

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Romans of citizen status normally went about bare-headed, but for the Saturnalia donned the pilleus, the conical felt cap that was the usual mark of a freedman.

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Saturnalia was appointed by lot, and has been compared to the medieval Lord of Misrule at the Feast of Fools.

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Saturnalia arrived in Italy "dethroned and fugitive", but brought agriculture and civilization and became a king.

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Avodah Zarah claims the etymology of Saturnalia is ???? ????? sin?a t?muna "hidden hatred, " and refers to the hatred Esau, whom the Rabbis believed had fathered Rome, harbored for Jacob.

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Saturnalia established them in Heaven's name, but they established them in the name of idolatry.

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Saturnalia continued as a secular celebration long after it was removed from the official calendar.

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