Happy Saturnalia!

Today is the first day of the ancient Roman holiday of Saturnalia, which has been celebrated here at the VC for several years now (see here, here, here, and here). Here’s a description of this not-to-be-missed event from the Encyclopedia Romana:

During the holiday, restrictions were relaxed and the social order inverted. Gambling was allowed in public. Slaves were permitted to use dice and did not have to work. . . Within the family, a Lord of Misrule was chosen. Slaves were treated as equals, allowed to wear their masters’ clothing, and be waited on at meal time in remembrance of an earlier golden age thought to have been ushered in by the god. In the Saturnalia, Lucian relates that “During My week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of frenzied hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water—such are the functions over which I preside.”

With an ongoing presidential election, we have no shortage of worthy candidates for the post of “Lord of Misrule.”

Happy Saturnalia to all our friends, Romans, and countrymen out there!

For (slightly) more serious VC posts about ancient Rome, see here and here.

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