Open Thread - Thurs 08 Dec 2022: December Celebrations!

Io Saturnalia!

In a couple of weeks or so it'll be time to celebrate... Saturnalia! What did you think I was gonna say? Smile Smile .

Saturnalia was (and is!) an ancient Roman festival in honor of the god Saturn. It's held in December, and is associated with the shortest day of the year - winter solstice and the rebirth of the sun the next day. Saturnalia is, of course, pagan. Ancient Greece had an equivalent called the Kronia. It was celebrated in mid-July to mid-August.

Days Celebrated:
Saturnalia was originally celebrated on December 17th on the Julian calendar; the holiday and celebrations grew in length over time until by the late Republic (c. 130's BC) they went until the 23rd of December.

Who Was Saturn:
Saturn was an old god, an agricultural deity who reigned over the Golden Period 'when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labour in a state of innocence. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age'. (quote from Wikipedia link above).

Saturn may have originated as a king who reigned amongst the pre-Roman Italians, according to Justinus, a Roman writer from the late 300's AD:

The first inhabitants of Italy were the Aborigines, whose king, Saturnus, is said to have been a man of such extraordinary justice, that no one was a slave in his reign, or had any private property, but all things were common to all, and undivided, as one estate for the use of every one; in memory of which way of life, it has been ordered that at the Saturnalia slaves should everywhere sit down with their masters at the entertainments, the rank of all being made equal.

— Justinus, Epitome of Pompeius Trogus 43.3 (as quoted in the Wikipedia article about Saturnalia linked above)

How Celebrated:
The festival originated with the celebrations of Saturn and his reign, and celebrations of agriculture with farming related rituals and a sacrifice at the temple of Saturn on the 17th of December. Gifts and sacrifices to the gods were offered during the winter sowing season, in order to make that season successful and the resulting crops bountiful. This ritual was practiced all around the Roman Empire by Roman troops, their families, and so on, so it spread everywhere and was combined with local pagan traditions for winter solstice.


A parade during Saturnalia, re-enacted in Chester, England, image from here

During Saturnalia all work and business was suspended. People decorated their homes with greenery, wreaths and lights (candles of course). They wore special colorful clothing instead of togas. Feasts occurred, and a special aspect of these was that the rich, the slave owners and such, changed places with their slaves for the feast. So they served their slaves! Slaves were given the freedom to say and do as they wished (within reason, of course). Some moral restrictions were eased and the cities and towns of Rome and the Empire (and the forts and fortresses of the troops) became filled with something like what we would know as a 'Mardi Gras madness'. A mock king was selected, and various gifts were given (the traditional gifts were wax models of fruit, wax statuettes, and candles).

During Saturnalia the phrase 'Io Saturnalia' was used as a salutation and shouted a lot. The first part of it is Greek (Io) and that part was generally used as an emotive ritual exclamation or to punctuate a joke.

So, with the end of the pagan Empire and the beginning and (oftentimes forced) flourishing of Christianity, Saturnalia was forgotten, right?


A modern sculpture showing Saturnalia fun, by Ernesto Biondi, 1909, image from here

Naw, much of it (and other celebrations of deities at the shortest day of the year, like Mithras, who was born on... Dec 25th) was moved/taken over/stolen for Christmas. Britannica says "The influence of the Saturnalia upon the celebrations of Christmas and the New Year has been direct."

Io.... Io... Ho... Ho... Ho?

So, thanks for reading and here's the open thread - and remember, everything is interesting if you dive deep enough, so tell us about where you're diving!

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Sima's picture

It's been a tough week. Jaska is still here, and she still only has three working legs. But she's here. There's been more vet time! And, unfortunately, not a lot of time to spend online. Jaska may have an infection as well as the arthritis sprain (infection acquired at the groomer's from a nick on the bad leg) indicated by the massive swelling that developed a few days after she went lame and that spread throughout her body. She's now on antibiotics for that, just in case. A day after starting those, the swelling in her body and the top of her leg is starting to go down. Coincidence? Dunno.

We also lost our phone service for a few days. The phones' screens just said 'Line in Use' and no dialing was possible. There was just a loud static noise, like we'd never hung up the phones. Calling us got a busy signal or a computer voice saying the line was busy. We unplugged the phones, turned them on and off, restarted the router about 10 times, plugged in a corded phone into an unused phone outlet (got the same static and no dialing) and more. Nothing helped. Strangely enough, the internet connection, which uses the same cord and line as the phone outlets, still works fine, although it's died a few times for a couple minutes each time. The earliest day the phone co. could come out to fix things is next Monday... so a week after I made the appointment. But the service is back today, and hopefully stays on. If so, I'll cancel the appointment. Smile

Ohh, and the car thing with the radio and clock turned out to be the alternator! So the car got a new alternator and a new battery and the radio and the clock work fine now. That was nuts, not having a car for several days while the fixes were happening and vet trips were scheduled. Luckily, friends are wonderful, and helped.

Hope things are going much better for everyone than they are for me right now. Post whatever you want, I wanna know about it!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

enhydra lutris's picture

Sounds like things haven't been going smoothly, sorry to hear it. Saturnalia was a great holiday and should have been perpetuated in all aspects. Sadly, the xtians, when they co-opted it, only retained some selective aspects which were more and more constrained to the superficial so as to best fit with official doctrine and politics.

Saturn also had a grim side. The Roman pantheon was mostly the Greek one with different names and Saturn was the Roman version of Chronos. It was fortold that his offspring would overthrow him, so he ate them, in succession, immediately after they were born. This gave us Goya's famous "Saturn Eating His Son" which hangs in the Prado:

goya_saturn_devouring_his_son_1823_1_1823

Good luck getting things running smoothly again and with Jaska's health issues.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Sima's picture

@enhydra lutris
Thanks for the reminder! I think I'm just gonna celebrate Saturnalia this year, no Christmas. We'll see.

On the good side, Jaska is getting better, we think! And the phone service hasn't gone out again. I hope everything is going well with you, sorry for replying late and thanks for stopping by!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

Last Sunday, I decided to put 2 organizing shelves in a bathroom. I saw that the floor was dusty, needed cleaning before I set the shelves down. Well, once I did the cleaning, I noticed the rest of the bathroom needed to be mopped. Then, I noticed the commode was dusty, so I decided to give it a good scrub. Well, I noticed the containers which hold the scrub brushes needed cleaning. So, I got out a bucket, filled it with soapy water, cleaned them up.
I celebrated the progress with a refreshing cold beer.
After cleaning the commode, and it stood out with it's gleam, it became apparent the tub and sink could use some scouring-type attention. I prepared for the endeavor by having a refreshing cold beer.
As the sink became shiny and bright, I realized the mirror could be shinier and brighter. Amazingly, when I located the proper cleaner, it was near the fridge, so I made the executive decision to have a refreshing cold beer, so as not to have to make a second trip to the kitchen.
As I finished up what was supposed to have been a 5 minute chore, I saw that it was getting dark outside. That meant to me that somewhere in the world, it was Happy Hour.
I leave it to all here to figure out what I did to celebrate my responsible and adult behavior.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

earthling1's picture

@on the cusp

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After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

@earthling1 than housekeeping.
No way to make it fun without good music, and good beer. I would not be a good housekeeper for hire, would I?
While so many folks are planning fun for the holiday, this is the exact time of year I have final battles for custody of children. The goal is to determine which parent or other person will be given custody, so the switch to a new school starts with the new semester. It is one of the busiest times of the year for me. The other months when hell unleashes is August, or the week of spring vacation.
The history of Christianity sort of commandeering the December celebrations is interesting, and pretty darn slick.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

Sima's picture

@on the cusp
Those are necessary, but just suck. For me Christmas is always extremely tense because my autistic sister can't handle all the changes, the anticipation starting the day after Halloween, and so on.

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3 users have voted.

If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

@Sima with the Christmas tradition, which is now a buying frenzy, and goofy competitions for best gingerbread houses in all public schools. My assistant made an 80 mile drive to Hobby Lobby, then spent $50 on gee gaws to decorate her son's gingerbread house. It was compelled. Every kid.
I had an elderly friend who lived in a fancy subdivision in the DC suburbs.
She hired a lawyer to do a recount on the Best Decorated Home competition, claiming the winner was shown favoritism by the Home Owner's Association president.
Just yesterday, just at closing time, I got the hysterical call. "Do I let my ex have the kids for holiday when he is going out of state and refuses to say where they will be staying!" (He is not a citizen. It is damn complicated.)
All family law attorneys dread the divorce fight over who gets the Christmas decorations. Rudolf on the roof is life or death sometimes.
I hope your sister can avoid the wholesale foolishness.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

Sima's picture

@earthling1
funny response!

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3 users have voted.

If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

Sima's picture

@on the cusp
I have a bunch to do too. It has gone by the wayside for the last week or so. I kinda like it that way! But the house doesn't. The dust does! So does the wet goat manure coming in on the barn boots! (only in one spot by the back door, but still... it doesn't smell that great).

I might try your method and just start small and move on and on, with some 'refreshments' in between and/or at the end.

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3 users have voted.

If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

@Sima Cleaning a room is often not. My goofy problem was, and always is, when I clean one thing, I realize another thing needs cleaning, then another...
That one little home improvement thingie to get some shelving organizing in one tiny place just went on and on, and I laughed through the whole hours long episode.
Take care of Jaska, the kids, your sis, and yourself.

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"We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." ---- William Casey, CIA Director, 1981

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Sima's picture

@humphrey
No, no burning brooms. And no hitting me with them. I wouldn't participate either!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

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enhydra lutris's picture

@humphrey

the boundaries of what a non-belligerant may do. The only international law that the US recognizes or abides is "We can do anything they can't stop us from doing" and we get away with because of our power, known lack of ethics, willingness to use nukes and cbw, etc,

Realistically, if they don't wish WWIII, all Russia can do is hack or jam our spy sats, comsats and other cammunication links.

be well and have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

Sima's picture

@humphrey
Ok, both of them, is/are disgusting. Does this person not understand history, (the Ukrainian one) and why the EU is like it is? Ohh wait, the Ukrainian Nazis need that history to be revised... Gag.

If we are telling Ukraine where each tank is, and I would not doubt that we are doing so, why are the Ukrainians performing so badly some of the time? Not that good at war?

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1 user has voted.

If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

@Sima
than the US expected.

If we are telling Ukraine where each tank is, and I would not doubt that we are doing so, why are the Ukrainians performing so badly some of the time? Not that good at war?

Fortunately, Russia has demonstrated remarkable restraint with regard their responses to the ever escalating provocations the collective West is enabling. In that sense, MAD is still at least partially effective.

The US, on the other hand, must realize by now that they can not meet Russia on any ‘conventional’ battlefield, whether it is the Ukraine proxy war or any other venue, and expect to win. This is where the greater risk of triggering an apocalyptical nuclear exchange lies, not with the Russians. The nuclear Russophobia being promulgated is purely a projection.

The US/NATO is the party that needs to use it’s nukes in order to ‘win’, not Russia.

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“The vaccine was not brought in for COVID. COVID was brought in for the vaccine. Once you realize that, everything else makes sense.” ~ Dr. Reiner Fuellmich

shaharazade's picture

@humphrey What absolute bs this Ukraine bs is. They suck. Enough with the Russians did it! Me I think the Ukraine
sucks. What a bunch of hooey. Enough! The dude that runs the Ukraine is bad news. Don't understand why this brouhaha even exists. How many decades must we spend hating Russia? What a bloody waste of time not to mention the fact that the Ukraine is a freaking Nazis pit.

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earthling1's picture

I'll be using that this season instead of Happy Holidays.
Thanks for the OT and history lesson.
It occurred to me that both Greece and Rome are at latitudes where one could plant seeds at the shortest day of the year and by doing so could take full advantage of the increasing sunlight hours. Total efficiency, leave no sun behind.
It makes sense to celebrate the coming growing season with fun and mirth, including sacrifice.
I sacrifice fish before I plant. So there's that.
Sometimes cow dung though.
Hoping for the best with Jaska.

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7 users have voted.

After six years, still getting robo-calls from Marriot Hotels.
They're like herpes.

Sima's picture

@earthling1

Sometimes I sacrifice fish too :). Mostly it's goat dung ;). I never plant before mid-Jan, and even then, it's just seedlings in the greenhouse. It's too cold up here! But you are right, Mediterraneans can start planting in December.

The good wishes for Jaska from you and everyone are working. The swelling is almost gone from her lower leg! Now, how to help her start walking on it again...

Have a great weekend, and drink some Saturnalia wine!

up
4 users have voted.

If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so