ALL ABOARD!!! for the next stop on the indieBRAG Christmas Bloghop – Christmas in Ancient Rome
excerpt from Vows of Revenge
recipient of the Indiebrag Medallion
“This is lovely, Aelia.”
The sound of pride in her father’s voice brought tears to Aelia’s eyes. Her father set the deep garnet colored wool tunic and matching pallium aside and drew the leather belt inlaid with garnets into view. He stood and tied it around his thin waist.
Aelia smiled at her success. “I had the belt made for you,” she said. A trickle of delight wiggled through her heart.
Her father’s smile warmed as if the sun touched her soul. Aelia looked at her mother studying her new stola. “You’ve much improved in your weaving, Aelia. I’m sure your husband is proud.”
Cassius motioned for wine. “The amount of time she spends weaving, she should be exceptional.”
Aelia handed the filled goblet to him.
He drank and added, “But, I will say the wool is quite soft.”
Her father’s gaze rested on Aelia. “And what has my daughter given to her husband?”
Cassius huffed. “Two wool tunics, of course. Not as colored as yours.”
While Aelia’s Satarnalia was unpleasant, this time of year was enjoyed by people around the world. As the shortest days of winter ended and light began its return,Celts, Egyptians, Greeks to even Native Americans celebrated the ending the harvest year and the beginning of a new one. Everyone partied, and no one partied more than the Romans.
Rome’s Government, businesses, and schools were closed. Even wars were halted. Laws as prohibiting gambling went ignored.Togas were put away and festive tunics worn. A license to revel was granted to everyone from masters to slaves. Peace was to rule and quarrels forgotten. To some, this got out of hand; to others the fun had just begun.
A Master of MisRule was elected by everyone in the house and his word was law. If he-usually a slave- ordered you to sing naked, you had to. Masters waited on slaves. Slaves dressed as masters and masters as slaves. They ate as equals and gambled life savings together. Since December 17 was determined to be Rome’s shortest day, this Saturnalia celebration started here and continued for a week,ending around December 24 and sometimes the 25th lasting for as many as twelve days.
For months Romans prepared, decorating the house and streets with candles (representing the return of light to the world.) Even trees bore candles and other decortions. Romas preferred the fir tree. However they did not cut it down but decorated it where it grew. Along with these burning candles, they added bits of gold and silver to reflect rays of light. Tiny terracotta images of baby animals, and children also were hung here, representations of new life for the new year.
Romans decorated ;homes and cities with garlands and wreaths of holly since this plant was Saturn’s symbolic plant grew best during the cold part of the year. Holly not only decorated houses, but gifts, given out usually on December 19th.
These gifts also came with small notes to the receiver from the giver. Poems, love notes, and notes of gratitude were shared from clients, patrons, friends, and family.
The idea of expensive gifts were not encouraged. However such gifts as combs, clothing (as was Aelia’s) were. Felt hats (symbol of freedmen worn by everyone from masters to slaves), combs, toothpicks, belts were handed out. Toys went to to children–dolls, terracotta figurines and small boxes. Money boxes, tools as knives and axes, spoons were shared, Often gifts may be fruit, foods, or pets as a pig or a parrot. Writing tablets, scrolls of plays and stories were given, including gag gifts and games.
Everyone received gifts from slaves to masters. But not all had the income to afford them, so it was very common that patrons granted monetary gifts to their clients so they could.
Everywhere singing was heard. Even bands of singers walked the streets, stopping by villas and singing bawdy songs until paid to leave. Sounds of “IO SATURNALIA”were heralded everywhere by everyone
Like the Romans and other people of the historical world, today we share and enjoy this time much the same way for family and friends to celebrate life. I hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and an even better new year.
NEXT STOP!!! on the indieBRAG Christmas Blog Hop is
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May your holiday be blessed and may your new year be bright.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year too.
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