Io Saturnalia!

Detail of the right side of the altar dedicated to the god of Malakbel and gods of Palmyra decorated with a bas-relief depicting the god Saturnus with a scythe (Roman artwork).
Detail of the right side of the altar dedicated to the god of Malakbel and gods of Palmyra decorated with a bas-relief depicting the god Saturnus with a scythe (Roman artwork). (From Wikipedia)

Remove the wool that binds Saturn’s feet. It’s time to party.

Saturnalia has fascinated me since 9th grade Latin class at St. Anselm’s, when Magister Switalla would tell us about the Roman holiday that Christians coopted for their Christmas holiday. For some reason, one of the details that stuck with me was the idea of gift giving, specifically the idea of giving a pencil to the magister (teacher) in honor of the holiday (humble gifts were considered to be an inverse reflection of the importance of the friendship between giver and receiver). Magister also demanded that for that day we students would teach and he would be the student in the type of role reversal common during the Roman holiday where masters would serve their slaves.

An excellent Wikipedia entry on Saturnalia notes that parrots sometimes were among the Saturnalia presents. So watch out for your Saturnalia Cockatoo. It will be arriving in the mail. It’ll be the squawking box with  air holes …

“It is now the month of December, when the greatest part of the city is in a bustle. Loose reins are given to public dissipation; everywhere you may hear the sound of great preparations, as if there were some real difference between the days devoted to Saturn and those for transacting business. … Were you here, I would willingly confer with you as to the plan of our conduct; whether we should eve in our usual way, or, to avoid singularity, both take a better supper and throw off the toga.”
— Seneca (as quoted in Wikipedia entry)

So from today through Dec. 23, io Saturnalia, y’all. Do whatever it takes to bring light to these darkest days bracketing the winter solstice.

 

Saturnalia