The 17th Day Before Yule – Saturnalia

Yule Comments & Graphics

Saturnalia Begins

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the deity Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”

In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who was said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of innocence. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.

Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects. The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday. In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth. The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25

Calendar of the Moon for July 20

Calendar of the Moon

12 Tinne/Hekatombaion


Color: Golden
Element: Earth
Altar: The Kronia celebrates the Golden Age when Kronos and Rhea ruled, when there was no order, so nothing is done ordinarily this day. The altar is laid with whatever cloths those present may bring, and set with whatever things they may think appropriate to the celebration of a mythical utopian anarchy.
Offerings: Do nothing in its order today. Invite in those not of the House and let them order the activities. The newest novice should replace the House Elder for the afternoon. Order is restored by Hesperis.
Daily Meal: Let those not of the house bring potluck. No one cooks today, and all fend for themselves.

Kronia Invocation
(With random shouting throughout)

Long ago, before there was Law,
Kronos inherited the throne
(Hail Kronos!)
From his mother, Gaea, who recognizes only
(Hail Gaea!)
The laws of nature, and his father Uranus,
(Hail Uranus!)
Who was capricious as the wind and the sky.
For hundreds of years he ruled their way,
Until he realized the value of Rules
(Hail Eunomia!)
And became their strongest servant.
When his son Zeus overthrew him,
(Hail Zeus!)
And with his thrice-blessed wife Hera
(Hail Hera!)
Ascended the throne, he kept the Rules.
Yet today we remember that time,
Like unto the childhood of the world,
Where there were no rules,
(Hail Chaos!)
Nor were any needed. Go now,
And spend one day without them,
That you may appreciate them the more in the end.
(All exit in a rush, snatching things from the altar, and have a drumming and dancing circle.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]