Io Saturnalia!

In our last lesson of term, we celebrated Roman-style with a Saturnalia. The Romans celebrated one of their moment important festivals starting on 17th December. People would decorate their homes with wreaths, exchange gifts with poems attached, have banquets and wear colourful clothes.

They even wore a hat, called a “pilleus”.

All this probably sounds quite familiar from Christmas celebrations! However, they would also have a sacrifice, place a statue of the Roman god Saturn on a couch, and appoint a King of the Saturnalia who would issue strange commands which everyone would have to follow. Slaves and masters might also switch roles.

The traditional greeting was “Io Saturnalia!” People would run around the streets calling “Io, Io, Io!”

One of the things people enjoyed doing was playing dice and gambling games. The Romans forbid gambling on most days, but it was allowed on certain days such as the Saturnalia.

We played the Roman game “calculi” meaning “little pebbles”, where you had to get five in a row of your counters to win. We also had a quiz on the Minoans and some Latin.

Finally. you translated some well-known Christmas songs from Latin into English – “We’re walking in the air” and “Little Donkey”.

Have a great holiday over the Christmas break and see you in 2022!

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