Here we are in December—and what a year 2021 has been. Let’s not even think about what we’ve survived—continuing pandemic, climate change, people with guns, violations of voting rights, the Orange T. Rex still at large. No no no. Let’s celebrate the coming holidays with the antique ancestor of the Feast of Fools. Let’s celebrate the Saturnalia.
Some background: Saturn, who was sometimes conflated with the Greek Titan, Cronus (who became a god of time), was an ancient Latin agricultural god whose name may derive from satur, “stuffed,” or sator, “a sower”; in either case, he stands for abundance. He was a working god who oversaw viniculture and farming and was the king of Italy during the golden age before the rise of imperial Rome. When Jupiter came to conquer him, he hid himself (latuit) in the region that came to be called Latium. The Romans soon proclaimed that Saturn’s body lay beneath the Capitol in Rome. Because his reign (and presumably his hidden corpse) brought prosperity to the city, the state treasury and the standards of the Roman legions were kept in his temple when the army was at home. Saturn’s statue was bound in woolen strips to keep him from leaving Rome. In addition to Saturn, the Romans honored Ops and popular gods like Sol Invictus, Mithra, Consus, Juventas, and Janus in their winter festivals.Continue reading “The Holidays Are Coming: Let’s Celebrate the Saturnalia by Barbara Ardinger”