A press release from the University of Warwick, with a nice photo too (and references!):
Over 2000 years ago Romans were celebrating the New Year in much in the same way that we do today with parties, drinking, gifting and, of course, with hopes for the year ahead. Roman celebrations were part of a religious festival called Saturnalia.
This winter festival originated as a farmers’ festival dedicated to Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and the harvest.
Beginning on the 17th December and lasting between three and seven days, Saturnalia was when work and business stopped (Lucian, Saturnalia, 13) – and was the most popular holiday of the year with the poet Catullus calling it ‘the best of days’. (Catullus, Carmen, 14)
Kevin Butcher, Professor of Roman history at the University of Warwick, says that “the festivities appear to have extended to everyone, including slaves, and there is the idea…
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