I’m pretty sure I’ve plugged Saturnalia already, but I thought I’d recap. Sources differ, but here is what we know:
The Romans held a celebration around every winter solstice called Saturnalia, honouring the god Saturn, in which they took a week-long holiday, ate themselves silly and partied. Slaves and their owners hung out together as slaves were given temporary freedom, and gifts were exchanged.
People were allowed to gamble and indulge in the name of Saturn – regular work was generally put on hold.
Saturnalia is sometimes associated with human sacrifice, but as far as my research can tell, this is a misinterpretation or mistranslation. Ancient Romans didn’t really go in for human sacrifice.
It’s possibly one of the reasons Christmas is celebrated around the winter solstice; there are a lot of parallels, mostly around the eating thing. Christianity and Roman paganism co-existed for at least a century, so it makes total sense that they borrowed from each other.
For Christmas 2019, my Saturnalia cards are available as bundles and as single cards, in my Folksy shop alongside my other mythology pieces. You can learn more about my Mythology Mayhem collection here!