On the first day of Christmas, Old Saturnalia wakes from whence it hides. More than a thousand winters have come and gone since it once held it's crown, yet its loudest spirit remains. Called now the Spirit of Christmas Song, Old Saturnalia's hair is still as dark as it was when he was young. His infectious capacity for song guarantees all others remember words for the songs of the Yuletide.
His is a spirit of liberty and song. Saturnalia oft acts to remove anything that might restrict the opportunity for such song. In his madder moments, however, he still repeats some of the old rites once more...
Given that Saturnalia has- Er, that Xmas is coming up, I'm going to try to do 12 Xmas days or whatever they're called. First up, Saturnalia, that joyful reminder that the Romans celebrated a holiday of gift giving, free speech and feasting. They didn't work that particular week. Romans couldn't declare war.
It celebrated Saturn, who lost control of the universe to his son Jupiter in the whole god thing. Romans being Romans, just explained that their earliest king happened to be Saturn in exile, who ruled over nymphs and fauns and etc. Ja. Or something like that. Very Roman.
If they had heard of Superman, Romans would've explained how Krypton was really Rome, kinda sorta.
Saturnalia influenced other celebrations. A part of it, which we don't observe now, is the notion of role reversal. Saturnalia enabled slaves to become masters, for a change of positions socially. It wasn't permanent, but it is an aspect of the festival that seems intriguing from this side of history. Saturnalia was meant to remember a mythic age where humans were innocent and didn't need labor.
There are traces there of something familiar, I think, in the secular notion of humans celebrating kindness for one another. Even if it is filtered through that blood-soaked madness of Roman religion.