Metella

Saturnalia - tell me about christmas time

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So I know some basics about this - but anyone want to share what they know and if they celebrate it?


 


I think "Happy Saturnalia" in my mind when I say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays .... but darn't say it out loud for fear of being ostracized once I explain myself.  :lol:


 


So I would love to hear some more about this - about anything you might actually do - or even want to do ... colors, decorations ..???


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I do half like to wind Christians up by referring them to Luke 2:8, where the shepherds tend the flocks.  That places the Nativity between March and November and is the only possible historical claim in the Gospels for the date of Jesus' birth.  Sorry to any Christians here, but it is funny!


 


I do notice, here in England - and maybe it's just me - but a lot of people do avoid the Christianized greeting in favour of more neutral non-religious congratulations (which word is, btw. a better translation of the 'blesseds' in the Gospels' Sermons on the Mount/Plain).  Perhaps this is due to the multi-cultural, multi-religious nature of the civic society and the wish not to exclude, perhaps even offend.


 


Anecdotally, an unusual seasonal goodbye occurred to me the other day.  My daughter is in an Eating Disorder Unit - hence my lack of substantial recent posts - and the extremely impressive doctor in charge of her recovery, whom I had met formally for the first time, parted company by wishing me, 'Season's Greetings' in that extremely secular and pointedly post-Christian manner.  I warmed to him even more.  I responded, 'Have a Cool Yule' and immediately regretted the inappropriate, slangish, rock 'n' roll tone.  Eat, drink and be merry! x


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In Holland most people (at least those in my circles) wish each other with: "Fijne feestdagen".


 


Which is literally: "Fine feast-days", for the 25th and 26th of December everybody is free from work and the first of January also.


Many people plan the days in between free as well. To stay at home or for a short holiday.


 


Sure, it's all about food at 1st and 2nd christmasday. Most of the time family-reunions (both fun times as complains about stressed


situations and forced unsincere friendly behavior). I like it though.


Like at Sinterklaas (5th of December), one brings gifts.


 


At new years eve during daytime youngsters already start with fireworks (which me and my cat surely dislike a lot). Because of


disturbances and severe accidents with illegal fireworks (missing eyes, hands and even fatal casualties) it's this year only allowed


to start at 18.00 and prohibited near hospitals and zoo's. Hope it will be totaly banned next year.


 


So, Fijne Feestdagen everybody!


 


Auris


(or maybe "Happy Festivus, for the rest of us"?)



 


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To my Roman friends of course I wish IO SATVRNALIA! but to the others I prefer to say in German "Frohes Fest" meaning acutally something like "Happy Holidays" which I use when greeting English speakers in order to avoid Christmas. In German Christmas is "Weihnachten" which means Holy Night or Sacred Night and actually it doesn't have to be holy thinking of Jesus but of the winter solstice and every celebration related to that, be it Saturnalia (Roman) or Jul (Germanic, Scandinavian).


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Lake Bracciano, Italy, c, 1997.  Celebrating new Year with my sister, Deirdre, and Scottish Peter, her man.  Completely bladdered by 11.45, 31st December.  Ran out of booze.  Peter and I decided, with no evidence, that there must be an off licence open in order for us to continue drinking.  So we set off through the dark streets of the village.


 


Come 12 o’clock, gunshots from balconies all around: in the Italian fashion, the entire male population was shooting live bullets in celebration into the air.  Even in our inebriated state, Peter and I realized that what goes up must come down.  We hightailed it back to his flat: completely petrified, dead sober, my sister and my girlfriend terrified.  Beddy-byes by 12.10.  That was a memorable, if not good, New Year.  Buon Anno!  x


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Ahh D. C., Bracciano... just an hour stroll (slog) down the lakeshore to Museo Storico dell' Aeronautica Militare Italiana:

 

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Anyways, I seemed to have a Saturnalia in Algiers long ago... or at least some locals seemed to treat it as a pagan holiday (not holding the J-C man as divine). It was supposed to be a camel safari escorted from Paris, but was all mixed up. Around xmas I found myself about the only nonlocal camping overnight on Algiers airport floor. Rings of family units often included a 20ish woman staring at me, who would remove veil or headscarf as if it suddenly needed retying whenever I met their glance. It did not seem a come-hither gesture, but sort of a flaunting of forbidden power to her (often mousey) male chaperone.

I'll skip the camel journey except to introduce the French characters on rough holiday... I remember one of the girls often striking a napoleonic pose on her animal who always arrived at destinations first. But the effect was ruined by her lips burned by the sun into swollen blackened sausages. Anyway we had trouble getting Air Algeria to fly us back. At one point the girls put on a crying fit and we were allowed to heave luggage onto an Air France tractor cart, but then were thrown off.

So we were stuck in Algiers for New Years eve, and I followed them out to some distant nightclub popular with French and wealthy locals. We walked thru dark streets in a freezing rain... I'm sure there was no islamic new year festivities going on. I was amazed by the girls joyfully soldiering thru the literally near-freezing downpour in wildly impractical footwear and clothing (miss sausage tottering in nothing but a fishnet dress).

When we arrived, we male euros got a lot of enthusiastic attention from puckered up local males. There was much slinging around of holiday greetings in French, but even relatively sober locals seemed intent on pushing the boundaries of the euro-kiss. I didn't even notice the fate of our girls as I dodged what wiki describes under Saturnalia as "role reversals and behavioral license".

The aftermath isn't too relevant, but I remember the non-saturnalian elegance of Paris on arrival new years day. No more filling our canteens from wells reeking of camel urine, or unwanted attention from locals (it was on a more recent trip to Paris that more than one local would come up to me offering to give directions... some scam?). Everything was closed except for delicious delis and a Matisse show just steps away from my very affordable hotel. Reminds me how I suffer for switching my focus to Rome with it's quirky less affordable hotels, exhausting hilly walks, and difficulty in finding authentic local food not dumbed down for mass tourism.

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The strong Italian presence in Philadelphia may have been the origin of the gun shooting on New Years here. Several people have died or been maimed though now because of the population density, so it's greatly discouraged.

One of the most dramatic moments in the movie, The Battle for Algiers, comes at the very end where the popular uprising against the French is signaled by the ululation of women in a mist, from which emerges a beautiful young woman, bareheaded with wild untamed curls, dancing blithely in the face of the French guns and taunting them with her scarf, exulting in liberty like the leader of a Bacchic thiasos. It's probably no coincidence that kettledrums are playing in the background.

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