With so many festivals overlapping at this time of year (Yule,Winter Solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah and Diwali) Saturnalia sometimes gets overlooked. Elements of Saturnalia can certainly be found in Christmas and Yuletide festivities. It seems to me that in much of the western world the extended period of celebrating between Christmas and New Year is quite similar in effect to the week long festivities of Saturnalia. Businesses and court proceedings closed up for the entire celebration, and food and drink were everywhere to be had. Elaborate feasts and banquets were held, and it wasn’t unusual to exchange small gifts at these parties. People decorated their homes with greenery, and even hung small tin ornaments on bushes and trees. It was also common at this time for groups of drunken people to roam the streets singing and generally misbehaving. It was a time of private and public fertility rituals and also a time of role reversal where owners had to serve meals to their slaves.
All these celebrations were in honor of Saturn, God of Agriculture. Some accounts I have read say the festivities were in part a homage to a Golden Age when Saturn ruled over all the other Gods.
I am definitely going to incorporate some elements of Saturnalia into my Yule celebrations this week.
And I wish everyone reading this blessed and happy festivities whatever tou are celebrating this season!