December 17 thru 23
Out of all the ancient Roman festivals this was the most beloved. The festival grew out of the dedication-day of a temple to Saturnus, the God of seed and sowing. It is also equated with the Greek Kronos, father of Zeus, and supreme God during the age of the Golden Race. It was believed that Saturn had been the king of Italy in a time of equality and abundance.
The festival began with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, which was followed by a great public banquet. During the Saturnalia, all shops and schools were closed, and gambling-usually usually prohibited-was allowed. Each household chose a mock king to preside over the festivities, masters waited on their slaves, presents were given, and the entire household celebrated. Many of the time-honored traditions and customs of Saturnalia were absorbed into the later Christian Christmas that fell on December 25.