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Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival. It honoured of the god Saturn. It was held on 17 December of the Julian calendar. Later it lasted longer, through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet. There was private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere. Gambling was permitted, and masters served their slaves.[1] A common custom was the election of a "King of the Saturnalia". The poet Catullus called it "the best of days".[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. Miller, John F. "Roman Festivals," in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford University Press, 2010), p. 172.
  2. Catullus 14.15 (optimo dierum), as cited by Mueller 2010, p. 221