Nov 30, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Saturnalian

Summary: The ancient Roman holiday Saturnalia honored Saturn, the god of agriculture and harvest. This December festival was raucous and lasted up to a week. Today, English speakers refer to any rowdy party as saturnalian in spirit. Did you celebrate over the weekend with a healthy balance of fun and thanksgiving?

The winter months have long been a season of celebration, particularly in the northern hemisphere where the light recedes and human hibernation periods of sorts require a little more effort to focus on happiness. One such ancient celebration was Saturnalia.

Beginning on December 17, ancient Romans celebrated the god Saturn (who governed agriculture and harvest) by feasting—sometimes for days and eventually for an entire week—on the bounty of that year's harvest. Children were given a holiday from school, and public ceremonies took place, as well as private ones within households. Sound familiar? Saturnalia's final feast day was December 25.

Around 1590, the English language adopted the word saturnalian (SAT - er - NALE - yun) to describe any unrestrained (and often ornery) celebration. Many Americans are likely returning to work today, nursing their figurative wounds after saturnalian revelry in food, drink, and social celebration with family and friends; some likely celebrated, as I did, at more than one place!

This is the other side to the reverential spirit of Thanksgiving that may come with any holiday party. Balancing both sides is important. Are you still thankful today? And, just as importantly, did you have FUN over YOUR break?

© KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

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