Monday, December 17, 2007

The Saturnalia of ancient Rome

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted

Four major Roman festivals were held in December, including the Saturnalia, which celebrated the returning Sun-god. Saturnalia (from the god Saturn) was the name the Romans gave to their holiday marking the Winter Solstice, and many of our Christmas customs derive from it. Saturn was a Roman cognate of the Greek god Chronos (Time). He devoured all his children except Jupiter (air), Neptune (water), and Pluto (the underworld, or grave). These time cannot consume. Like the Grim Reaper, he carries a sickle, and we know him in our day as Father Time.

The reign of Saturn was celebrated by the poets as a 'golden age'. According to the old alchemists and astrologers Saturn typified lead, and was a very evil planet to be born under. He was the god of seedtime and harvest and his symbol was a scythe, and he was finally banished from his throne by his son, Jupiter.

Saturnalia was celebrated for seven days beginning on December 17. It honoured the corn-god Saturn and his consort, Ops, the goddess of plenty. Normal activities were suspended during this time period. Slaves and masters were temporarily on an equal footing, and the theme was goodwill to all ...

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