Happy Saturnalia!

Today is Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday whose celebration has become a Volokh Conspiracy tradition. OK, in reality it’s only a tradition in so far as I put up a post about it every year. But that’s as traditional as anything in the blogosphere is ever likely to get.

The Encyclopedia Romana describes this exciting holiday as follows:

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.”

Sadly, this year we have more than the usual number of strong contenders for the title of Lord of Misrule here in the Washington, DC area. I’m sure our commenters will have plenty of nominees. On the bright side, Saturnalia is definitely an appropriate occasion to purchase Volokh Conspiracy holiday gifts.

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

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