Io Saturnalia!

We are in the middle of the Saturnalia, an ancient festivity that was celebrated the 17th of December. (Later they celebrated it 19. 12. until the 23.12. to embed both the old and the new date – after the Julian calendar reform, which added ten days to the year.)

In the temple of Saturn in Rome the god got a generous offering, and then the feet of the Saturn statue, which was bound by wool, were liberated for the time of the holiday. Then an official banquet followed. It was a holiday for everybody, an official “no business” day, no work, no school – and it was a time of turning around the structures of power in society. Slaves and masters changed their roles. It was an ecstatic holiday with lots of wine and excessive festivities, remembering the happy times of the Golden Age, free of restriction, enjoying overflowing happiness. The 19.12., the day of “Sigillaria”, the people gave each other little gifts.

The pre-Julian year had only 355 days. Julius Caesar added 10 days, so the Julian Calender, beginning 46 BC, had 365 days, with a leap day every three years. It is difficult to convert pre-Julian dates into Julian dates, so our 17.12. is , almost for sure,  a different day than the 17.12. of the pre-Julian calendar, even without considering the Gregorian calendar. (After my little research I am pretty confused now, please correct me, when I got something wrong…)

When we assume for now that the 17.12. (our calendar) marks the beginning of Saturnalia, and the 23.12. marks the end, we have a beautiful coincidence: the 24.12.2014 Saturn moves from Scorpio into Sagittarius. The 21.12.2014 we have the winter solstice falling together with a New Moon.

Saturn is the lord of time, ecstatic when unbound, the antique giver of wealth, the god of the Golden age, of paradise on earth.

He is the lord of agriculture, an earth god.

He is the lord of time.

He gives so much.

Why not offering him, acknowledging him for the wealth he have, asking him for wisdom to acquire? Why not thanking him for the understanding of our depths he brought us while he moved through Scorpio?

We get an idea here, after my little exploration of antique calendars, that time is a changing concept and not the given structure we are used to.

But between now and then, between the time when the Romans celebrated Saturnalia and when we will celebrate Christmas, we can remember that the source of many of these festivities in late December is the same: the birth of light.

Lets celebrate the longest night of the year.

And welcome the return of the sun.

Io Saturnalia!








  1. Thank you for this erudite and entertaining post. And Happy Saturnalia to you!


    1. Happy Saturnalia to you! :)


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