Santa's Whiskers

217 B.C.


In 700 B.C. the original Italian people inhabited the Alban Hills. Gradually they moved down into the valleys where there was better land for agriculture. Particularly around the Tiber River where there was a natural border on one side and the hills could provide defense on the other. And this put them at the intersection of principal roads to the sea from both the northeast and the northwest. The development is presumed to have started from separate villages that eventually joined together to form Rome.

Saturnalia originated as a farmer's festival to mark the end of the autumn planting season in honor of Saturn (satus means sowing). 

Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.  

It was traditional to offer gifts of imitation fruit (a symbol of fertility), dolls, and candles (reminiscent of the bonfires traditionally associated with pagan solstice celebrations).

While it was generally celebrated in home or with friends, the Saturnalia became a public banquet holiday in 217 B.C. It was held on December 17  and later expanded with festivities through December 23. The holiday was celebrated with a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving.