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Monday, December 16, 2013

Pagan Festival Shout Out: Saturnalia

saturnaliaDecember 17th is Saturnalia. A festival where roles are reversed. Sound familiar? On Christmas in the UK the same thing happed in Medieval times where the poor and commoner was allowed into the homes of the wealthy and treated to a feast. To this day it is why the people will often adorn the paper crown hats during the Christmas dinner celebration. Now to Saturnalia.  Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity, Saturn , held on December 17 of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through December 23.

Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the "Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun," on December 25. Saturnalian license also permitted slaves to enjoy a pretense of disrespect for their masters, and exempted them from punishment. It was a time for free speech. The Sigillaria on December 23 was a day of gift-giving. Because gifts of value would mark social status contrary to the spirit of the season, these were often the pottery or wax figurines called sigillaria made specially for the day, candles, or "gag gifts". A lot of these elements where merged in with the Catholic’s Christmas in order to bring Pagans to Christianity.

Today Saturnalia is an exceptional time to raise the Holiday festivities of Yule and Christmas just a little bitter higher in our desire for end of year merriment. Bringing trees indoors to decorate which most people do,  decorating outdoor trees with sun and star symbols which I often do, and using swathes of greenery over doorways, windows, and on your person.  Decorations are secondary to revelry, feasting, drinking, merry-making, pranks, and gift-giving are the major objective for celebrating Saturnalia.

Biblioteca Arcana's suggestions are for celebrating the religious aspects of the Saturnalia and its two adjoining holidays, the Opalia for Saturn's wife, Ops, goddess of plenty, and the Consualia for Consus, "god of the storage bin." The site provides a complete ritual with an equipment list, information on preparation, location, timing, the banquet, and the conclusion.

Chants for Saturnalia:
Save the seed corn for the sowing;
Plant the seed to start it growing.

Bring the light to wake the seed;
Let the shoot from earth be freed.

Io Saturnalia!
Io Saturnalia!
Io Saturnalia!

For the entire Saturnalia/Winter Solstice Ritual Click The Image Below.
saturnalia ritual

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