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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Saturnalia and it's correlations w/ Christmas


Saturn was a god of the ancient Roman religion, and a "character" through roman mythology. He was described as a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation. Saturn's mythological reign was depicted as a "Golden Age" of plenty and peace. However, after the roman conquest of Greece the depiction of Saturn has changed and merged with the Greek Titan: Cronus. Saturn is celebrated during the festival of Saturnalia each December. The planet Saturn and the day of the week Saturday are both named after him. The Roman land preserved the remembrance of a very remote time during which Saturn and Janus reigned on the site of the city before its foundation: the Capitol was called mons Saturnius. In particular, Cronus's role in the genealogy of the Greek gods was transferred to Saturn. As early as Livius Andronicus (3rd century BC), Jupiter(Zeus) was called the son of Saturn. Under Saturn's rule, humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in the "Golden Age" described by Hesiod and Ovid. He became known as the god of time. Since agriculture is so closely linked to seasons and therefore an understanding of the cyclical passage of time, it follows that agriculture would then be associated with the deity Saturn.

The main difficulty in studying Saturn is in assessing what is original of his figure and what is due to later changing influences. Moreover, some features of the god may be common to Cronus but are nonetheless very ancient and can be considered proper to the Roman god, whereas others are certainly later and arrived after 217 BCE, the year in which the Greek customs of the Kronia were introduced into the Saturnalia. Saturn/ and or Cronus can be portrayed with the symbol of either a Sickle, Scythe, Grain, or Snake.

 Cronus :

In Greek mythology, Cronus, Cronos, or Kronos: was the leader and youngest of the first generation of Titans, the divine descendants of Uranus, the sky, and Gaia, the earth. He overthrew his father and ruled during the mythological Golden Age, until he was overthrown by his own son Zeus and imprisoned in Tartarus. According to Plato, however, the deities Phorcys, Cronus, and Rhea were the eldest children of Oceanus and Tethys.

Cronus was usually depicted with a harpe, scythe or a sickle, which was the instrument he used to castrate and depose Uranus, his father. In Athens, on the twelfth day of the Attic month of Hekatombaion, a festival called Kronia was held in honour of Cronus to celebrate the harvest, suggesting that, as a result of his association with the virtuous Golden Age, Cronus continued to preside as a patron of the harvest. Cronus was also identified in classical antiquity with the Roman deity Saturn.

 Saturnalia held on December 17, of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to December 23rd. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves as it was seen as a time of liberty for both slaves and freedmen alike.

A common custom was the election of a "King of the Saturnalia", who would give orders to people, which were to be followed and preside over the merrymaking.
The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as Sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days".

Saturnalia was the Roman equivalent to the earlier Greek holiday of Kronia, which was celebrated during the Attic month of Hekatombaion in late midsummer. It held theological importance for some Romans, who saw it as a restoration of the ancient Golden Age, when the world was ruled by Saturn.

During antiquity, Cronus was occasionally interpreted as Chronos, the personification of time. 

The Roman philosopher Cicero (1st century BCE) elaborated on this by saying that the Greek name Cronus is synonymous to chronos (time) since he maintains the course and cycles of seasons and the periods of time, whereas the Latin name Saturn denotes that he is saturated with years since he was devouring his sons, which implies that time devours the ages and gorges.

 In addition to the name, the story of Cronus eating his children was also interpreted as an allegory to a specific aspect of time held within Cronus' sphere of influence. As the theory went, Cronus represented the destructive ravages of time which devoured all things, a concept that was illustrated when the Titan king ate the Olympian gods — the past consuming the future, the older generation suppressing the next generation.

Lord of Misrule comes from a similar custom practised during the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. In ancient Rome, from 17 to 23 December (in the Julian calendar), a man chosen to be a mock king was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the Roman deity Saturn; at the end of the festival, the man was sacrificed. This hypothesis has been heavily criticized by William Warde Fowler and as such, the Christmas custom of the Lord of Misrule during the Christian era and the Saturnalian custom of antiquity may have completely separate origins; the two separate customs, however, can be compared and contrasted.

According to the anthropologist James Frazer, there was a darker side to the Saturnalia festival. In Durostorum on the Danube (modern Silistra), Roman soldiers would choose a man from among them to be the Lord of Misrule for thirty days. At the end of that thirty days, his throat was cut on the altar of Saturn. Similar origins of the British Lord of Misrule, as a sacrificial king (a "temporary king", as Frazer puts it) who was later put to death for the benefit of all, have also been recorded.


References to Frazer's view of this ancient sacrifice were made in the 1973 film The Wicker Man.

While the later Roman custom of a Lord of Misrule as a master of revels, a figure of fun and no more than that, is most familiar, there does seem to be some indication of an earlier and more unpleasant aspect to this figure. Frazer recounts:

    We are justified in assuming that in an earlier and more barbarous age it was the universal practice in ancient Italy, wherever the worship of Saturn prevailed, to choose a man who played the part and enjoyed all the traditional privileges of Saturn for a season, and then died, whether by his own or another's hand, whether by the knife or the fire or on the gallows-tree, in the character of the good god who gave his life for the world.

The Lord of Misrule is also referred to by Philip Stubbes in his Anatomie of Abuses (1585) where he states that "the wilde heades of the parishe conventynge together, chuse them a grand Capitaine (of mischeefe) whom they ennobel with the title Lorde of Misrule". He then gives a description of the way they dress colourfully, tie bells onto their legs and "go to the churche (though the minister be at praier or preachyng) dauncying and swingyng their handercheefes".

Decline of the custom beliefs:

 With the rise of the Puritan party in the 17th century Church of England, the custom of the Lord of Misrule was outlawed as it was deemed "disruptive"; even after the Restoration, the custom remained banned and soon became forgotten. In the early 19th century, the Oxford Movement in the Anglican Church ushered in "the development of richer and more symbolic forms of worship, the building of neo-Gothic churches, and the revival and increasing centrality of the keeping of Christmas itself as a Christian festival" as well as "special charities for the poor" in addition to "special services and musical events". Charles Dickens and other writers helped in this revival of the holiday by "changing consciousness of Christmas and the way in which it was celebrated" as they emphasized family, religion, gift-giving, and social reconciliation as opposed to the historic revelry common in some places.

In the middle of the nineteenth century, some of the old ceremonies, such as gift-giving, were revived in English-speaking countries as part of a widespread "Christmas revival". During this revival, authors such as Charles Dickens sought to reform the "conscience of Christmas" and turn the formerly riotous holiday into a family-friendly occasion. Vestiges of the Saturnalia festivities may still be preserved in some of the traditions now associated with Christmas. The custom of gift-giving at Christmas time resembles the Roman tradition of giving sigillaria and the lighting of Advent candles resembles the Roman tradition of lighting torches and wax tapers. Likewise, Saturnalia and Christmas both share associations with eating, drinking, singing, and dancing. 

Birth of Jesus: UNKNOWN

In the fourth century AD, Pope Julius I (337–352) formalized that it should be celebrated on 25 December, around the same time as the Saturnalia celebrations. Some have speculated that part of the reason why he chose this date may have been because he was trying to create a Christian alternative to Saturnalia. Another reason for the decision may have been because, in 274 AD, the Roman emperor Aurelian had declared December 25th the birth date of Sol Invictus and Julius. Which is thought that he could attract more converts to Christianity by allowing them to continue to celebrate on the same day. He may have also been influenced by the idea that Jesus had died on the anniversary of his conception; because Jesus died during Passover and, in the third century AD, Passover was celebrated on 25 March, he may have assumed that Jesus's birthday must have come nine months later, on 25 December. 

 The Romans regarded Saturn as the original and autochthonous ruler of the Capitolium, and the first king of Latium or even the whole of Italy. At the same time, there was a tradition that Saturn had been an immigrant deity, received by Janus after he was usurped by his son Jupiter (Zeus) and expelled from Greece.

Roman mythology of the Golden Age of Saturn's reign differed from the Greek tradition. He arrived in Italy "dethroned and fugitive", but brought agriculture and civilization and became a king. As the Augustan poet Virgil described it:

    "[H]e gathered together the unruly race [of fauns and nymphs] scattered over mountain heights, and gave them laws … . Under his reign were the golden ages men tell of: in such perfect peace he ruled the nations."

 Art and literature under Augustus celebrated his reign as a new Golden Age, but the Saturnalia makes a mockery of a world in which law is determined by one man and the traditional social and political networks are reduced to the power of the emperor over his subjects. In a poem about a lavish Saturnalia under Domitian, Statius makes it clear that the emperor, like Jupiter, still reigns during the temporary return of Saturn.

Human Offerings: 

In sources of the third century AD and later, Saturn is recorded as receiving dead gladiators as offerings (munera) during or near the Saturnalia.These gladiatorial events, ten days in all throughout December, were presented mainly by the quaestors and sponsored with funds from the treasury of Saturn.

The statue of Saturn at his main temple normally had its feet bound in wool, which was removed for the holiday as an act of liberation. The official rituals were carried out according to "Greek rite" (ritus graecus). The sacrifice was officiated by a priest, whose head was uncovered; in Roman rite, priests sacrificed capite velato, with head covered by a special fold of the toga. This procedure is usually explained by Saturn's assimilation with his Greek counterpart Cronus, since the Romans often adopted and reinterpreted Greek myths, iconography, and even religious practices for their own deities, but the uncovering of the priest's head may also be one of the Saturnalian reversals, the opposite of what was normal.

Following the sacrifice the Roman Senate arranged a lectisternium, a ritual of Greek origin that typically involved placing a deity's image on a sumptuous couch, as if he were present and actively participating in the festivities. A public banquet followed.

The day was supposed to be a holiday from all forms of work. Schools were closed, and exercise regimens were suspended. Courts were not in session, so no justice was administered, and no declaration of war could be made. After the public rituals, observances continued at home. On 18 and 19 December, which were also holidays from public business, families conducted domestic rituals. They bathed early, and those with means sacrificed a suckling pig, a traditional offering to an earth deity.

Sigillaria as a proper noun was also the name for the last day of the Saturnalia, December 23.

Massacre of the Innocents:


Biblical narratives:

The Magi visit Jerusalem to seek guidance as to where the king of the Jews has been born; King Herod directs them to Bethlehem and asks them to return to him and report, but they are warned in a dream and do not do so. The massacre is reported in Matthew 2:16:

        When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.

This is followed by a reference to and quotation from the Book of Jeremiah: "Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Matthew 2:17-18).

ADAM:

Adam (Hebrew:) is a figure in the Book of Genesis in the Hebrew Bible, and in the Quran and Christian belief. According to the creation myth of the Abrahamic religions, he was the first man. In both Genesis and Quran, Adam and his wife were expelled from the Garden of Eden for eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

The linden tree (also commonly known as basswood or lime tree, despite being unrelated to the fruit bearing bush of the same name) falls within the Tilia genus, a group of around 30 species of trees native to the Northern hemisphere. Other members of the genus include the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), phalsa (Grewia subinaequalis), durian (Durio spp.), and Illawarra flame tree (Brachychiton acerifolius.) Linden trees are hermaphroditic, meaning their perfect flowers carry both male and female parts that require pollination from insects. Once pollinated, the flowers will develop into oval, slightly ribbed fruits with a pointed tip. The fruits grow in clusters of 2,3 or 4, and are fitted with a wing to facilitate their spread.

 JUPITER:

Jupiter ("day, sky" + "father", thus "sky father"), also known as Jove (gen. Iovis), is the god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods in Ancient Roman religion and mythology. Jupiter was the chief deity of Roman state religion throughout the Republican and Imperial eras, until Christianity became the dominant religion of the Empire. In Roman mythology, he negotiates with Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome, to establish principles of Roman religion such as offering, or sacrifice. The Romans regarded Jupiter as the equivalent of the Greek Zeus,[8] and in Latin literature and Roman art, the myths and iconography of Zeus are adapted under the name Iuppiter. In the Greek-influenced tradition, Jupiter was the brother of Neptune and Pluto, the Roman equivalents of Poseidon and Hades respectively. Each presided over one of the three realms of the universe: sky, the waters, and the underworld. The Italic Diespiter was also a sky god who manifested himself in the daylight, usually identified with Jupiter. Tinia is usually regarded as his Etruscan counterpart.

GAIA:

In Greek mythology, Gaia ("land" or "earth"), also spelled Gaea is the personification of the Earth and one of the Greek primordial deities. Gaia is the ancestral mother of all life. She is the mother of Uranus (the sky), from whose sexual union she bore the Titans (themselves parents of many of the Olympian gods), the Cyclopes, and the Giants; of Pontus (the sea), from whose union she bore the primordial sea gods. Her equivalent in the Roman pantheon was Terra.

GEB:

Geb was the Egyptian god of the Earth and later a member of the Ennead of Heliopolis. He had a viper around his head and was thus also considered the father of snakes. It was believed in ancient Egypt that Geb's laughter created earthquakes and that he allowed crops to grow.


The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry interpreted the freedom associated with Saturnalia as symbolizing the "freeing of souls into immortality". Saturnalia may have influenced some of the customs associated with later celebrations in western Europe occurring in midwinter, particularly traditions associated with Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Epiphany. In particular, the historical western European Christmas custom of electing a "Lord of Misrule" may have its roots in Saturnalia celebrations.
 

 Libyan account by Diodorus Siculus
In a Libyan account related by Diodorus Siculus (Book 3), Uranus and Titaea were the parents of Cronus and Rhea and the other Titans. Ammon, a king of Libya, married Rhea. However, Rhea abandoned Ammon and married her younger brother Cronus. With Rhea's incitement, Cronus and the other Titans made war upon Ammon, who fled to Crete. Cronus ruled harshly and Cronus in turn was defeated by Ammon's son Dionysus who appointed Cronus' and Rhea's son, Zeus, as king of Egypt. Dionysus and Zeus then joined their forces to defeat the remaining Titans in Crete, and on the death of Dionysus, Zeus inherited all the kingdoms, becoming lord of the world.

Sibylline Oracles
Cronus is mentioned in the Sibylline Oracles, particularly in book three, which makes Cronus, 'Titan' and Iapetus, the three sons of Uranus and Gaia, each to receive a third division of the Earth, and Cronus is made king over all. After the death of Uranus, Titan's sons attempt to destroy Cronus's and Rhea's male offspring as soon as they are born, but at Dodona, Rhea secretly bears her sons Zeus, Poseidon and Hades and sends them to Phrygia to be raised in the care of three Cretans. Upon learning this, sixty of Titan's men then imprison Cronus and Rhea, causing the sons of Cronus to declare and fight the first of all wars against them. This account mentions nothing about Cronus either killing his father or attempting to kill any of his children.


Other accounts:
Cronus was said to be the father of the wise centaur Chiron by the Oceanid Philyra, who was subsequently transformed into a linden tree. The Titan chased the nymph and consorted with her in the shape of a stallion, hence the half-human, half-equine shape of their offspring; this was said to have taken place on Mount Pelion.

Two other sons of Cronus and Philyra may have been Dolops and Aphrus, the ancestor and eponym of the Aphroi, i.e. the native Africans.

In some accounts, Cronus was also called the father of the Corybantes.

Source(s):

https://nimvo.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-linden-tree/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_Misrule
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korybantes
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sigillaria_(ancient_Rome)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_of_the_Innocents
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satre_(Etruscan_god)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chthonic
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jupiter_(mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturn_(mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geb
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cronus
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronia



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