December 17th – January 1st
ALTAIR – Candle and Cauldron – Contraption – CerberusXing – Insomnia Angel – Jinx – Laminak – Libertine – Lilithe – Lux Aeterna – Mythril – Nefekalum Tattoos – Olive – Petrichor – Simply Shelby – Static – Salem
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman pagan festival that celebrated the god Saturn, at the Temple of Saturn in ancient Rome. This “holiday” began on 17th December and ran through to 23rd December in accordance to the Julian calendar. Much like Kronia, Saturnalia’s Greek equivalent, it was a time of feasts, drinking, merry-making, gift-giving, and parties, just like the tradition we call today, Christmas. Additionally, there were also activities such role reversal (masters would serve their slaves) and the electing of a “King of the Saturnalia” (Saturnalicius princeps). It was called “the best of days”, a time of opposing the regular, symbolical liberation, and overturning the social norms, reflecting the contradictory nature of the god Saturn himself.
As the Roman Empire converted to Christianity somewhere in the 4th Century, many of their pagan traditions were adopted by Christians or influenced Christian celebrations, it is no coincidence that the declared birthday of Sol Invictus (the Roman Sun god) was on the 25th of December.
Likewise, Yule, or Yuletide, originally a Germanic pagan festivity, met the same fate as most pagan traditions, being Christianized as the years went by. The Christmas log cakes, Christmas ham, and caroling are just a few examples of Yule traditions that were later brought into Christmas. Yule is still commonly celebrated by many people; Wiccans often regard this winter solstice celebration as the rebirth of the Horned God.
As the pattern emerges, we can certainly begin to recall many more Christmas activities coming to mind, that bear a strong resemblance to ancient pagan traditions, and not just limited to the ones mentioned here.