~ HAPPY SATVRNALIA ~
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves as it was seen as a time of liberty for both slaves and freedmen alike. A common custom was the election of a “King of the Saturnalia”, who would give orders to people, which were to be followed and preside over the merrymaking. The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”.
Volume I: Books 1 (Loeb Classical Library)
Robert A. Kaster
The Saturnalia, Macrobius’s encyclopedic celebration of Roman culture written in the early fifth century CE, has been prized since the Renaissance as a treasure trove of otherwise unattested lore. Cast in the form of a dialogue, the Saturnalia treats subjects as diverse as the divinity of the Sun and the quirks of human digestion while showcasing Virgil as the master of all human knowledge from diction and rhetoric to philosophy and religion.