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posted by Sorcha
Saturnalia is the feast at which the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the go Saturn, which took place on 17th of December. Over the years, it expanded to a whole week, up to the 23rd of December. Saturnalia was a large and important public festival in Rome. It involved the conventional sacrifices, a couch (lectisternium) set out in front of the temple of Saturn and the untying of the ropes that bound the statue of Saturn during the rest of the year. Besides the public rites there were a series of holidays and customs celebrated privately. The celebrations included a school holiday, the making and giving of small presents (saturnalia et sigillaricia) and a special market (sigillaria). Gambling was allowed for all even slaves; however, although it was offically condoned only during this period, one should not assume that it was rare or much remarked upon during the rest of the year. It was a time to eat, drink and be merry! The toga was not worn but rather the synthesis, i.e. colorful, informal "dinner clothes", and the pileus (freedman's hat) was worn by everyone. Slaves were exempt from punishment, and treated their masters with disrespect. The slaves celebrated a banquet; before, with or served by masters. A Saturnalicius princeps was elected master of ceremonies for the proceedings. Saturnalia became on of the most popular Roman festivals!