Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Io Saturnalia!

Today is December 17, the day that the ancient Romans began celebrating their week-long winter festival, Saturnalia, during which time schools and businesses closed, fans attended gladiator games, presents were exchanged (especially candles, according to William Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities), and parties took place at all levels of Roman society.

Sound familiar?

Of course, not everyone celebrated the Roman winter holiday by gaming or feasting. Pliny the Younger writes in Epistula II.17 about withdrawing to his sitting room to read and study quietly while the rest of his household made merry.

For Christmas and Saturnalia ideas, see previous Latinteach blog entries labeled Holidays.