From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

hello =


"Saturnalia is a name of the popular winter festival, also known as Yule and Christmas" Consideration might be given to introducing the article by presenting Saturnalia as a modern festival that has survived from late antiquity. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:03, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

wikiproject advice[edit]

from my talk page: "Actually pretty good overall. I'd suggest some more inline references and pictures. The pictures might be hard to find that meet Wikipedia policy, I know, but if there's some classical paintings, or representations on pottery, or some sort of depictions of the festivities, it'd help lots. But the references are more important. If any of the stuff in the "External links" section was used in the article, cite it in the article itself. Or just use stuff from those external links sources and cite in the article. Overall length and content appears good, I wouldn't think it needs expanding much more. Didn't get carried away with the wikilinking, which is good. Don't think the dates need to be wikilinked in the "Notes" section, but not sure. Might want to consider creating at least a stub for Saturnalicius princeps. There's all that pretty blue, so the bits of red really stand out. It's pretty close to a "B". In fact, I'd say it wouldn't require too much more brushing up to try for GA. It's an important enough subject to be GA, imho. Hope this helped, and good luck! :) --Ebyabe 23:08, 22 March 2007 (UTC)" Novium 23:12, 22 March 2007 (UTC)

No this shouldn't be only about the Roman festival[edit]

The ancient festival continued almost seemlesly into modern times renamed as Yule or Christmas. Treating it as a purely ancient Roiman festival really doesn't do the subject justice. Perhaps you need a seperate page to deal with the historical pre-christian Saturnalia? If you want references to the fact that Christians artificially adopted Dec 25 as Jesus' birthday, they are there and plentiful. You may want to take a look at Julian's Oration to Helios and Marcrobius' Saturnalia. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:11, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Shouldn't this be about the roman festival?[edit]

Why is 90% of the article and the whole of this discussion are centered around Christmas? Could we just drop the whole christmas thing (maybe a small mention that people do care and debate about these things) and write the article about saturnalia? Maybe move all this stuff to a seperate page called 'christmas and saturnalia'? "t is a widely-held theory that Christians in the fourth century assigned December 25th (the Winter Solstice on the Julian calendar) as Christ's birthday (and thus Christmas) because pagans already observed this day as a holiday. This would sidestep the problem of eliminating an already popular holiday while Christianizing the population." Widely held? Says who? ANy sources on this? "e Romans also practiced many traditions similar to Christmas; specifically the "Christmas tree"," Once again? Source? "The medieval celebration of the Feast of Fools was another continuation of Saturnalia into the Christian era." Really? It is plausible, but where's the proof? What are these assumptions/theories based on? Novium 01:21, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Ok, Novium. Why is it that you do not question the sources for the following paragraph?

“It is also possible to see it as early Christians replacing the Pagan celebration in an act of triumphalism. However, others claim that early Christians independently came up with the date of December 25th based on a Jewish tradition of the "integral age" of the Jewish prophets (the idea that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception), and a miscalculation of the date of Jesus' death. It is even sometimes claimed that Aurelian moved the feast of Sol Invictus to December 25th to co-opt the Christian celebration.”

Instead you seem to be unusually selective about which statements you challenge. Put another way, you prefer to question the notion that Christmas is based on the early popular pagan Roman celebration of Saturnalia but you do not question statements like: “others claim that early Christians independently came up with the date of December 25th based on a Jewish tradition OR It is even sometimes claimed that Aurelian moved the feast of Sol Invictus to December 25th to co-opt the Christian celebration.”

Do you have some kind of personal agenda or religious investment to defend? For the purposes of full disclosure perhaps you should state your religious affiliation.

The amount of scholarly writing that has been done on the ancient origins of Christmas is vast and anyone you wishes to do the research will very quickly discover how many writers and historians "link" Christmas to Saturnalia. Certainly Saturnalia is not the only influence on Christmas since the holiday of Christmas evolved over time however to outright deny what history makes obvious is absurd. --Quid est veritas 02:56, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

I don't really understand you. I don't want ANY mention of christmas on this page, except perhaps a link to a discussion on it, if absolutely necessary.. When I first found it, the entire article was about christmas. I don't think the section on christmas is at all scholarly, and if there IS a place to discuss it, it should be on the christmas page. That is my position. And it ISN'T scholarly. The statements I challanged were the ones that most obviously needed SOME sort of support. References. Citations. Quotes. Not just "others claim" or "it is widely believed". Novium 20:59, 16 April 2006 (UTC)
It is "widely beleived" that Christ was born on Christmas day. See what I did there?

Novium is some kind of bible basher. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:05, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

Novium has a point. An ancient festival has no bearing on a modern holiday. Discussion of the two should be kept distinct and separate. Spellbook (talk) 08:24, 16 December 2009 (UTC)

Novium does not have a point the modern winter festival is a continuation of the ancient one, whatever it's called. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:13, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

something to keep in mind[edit]

a friend mentioned this: "Many of the important Christian festivals were fixed at the Council of Nicaea, presided over by Constantine the Great himself. Although the defender of Christianity, he only converted at the end of his life and throughout his reign was ambivalent towards Christianity, incorporating into its practices many of the pagan rituals of Rome, and especially of Sol Invictus. You'll also note that Christmas was not, in fact, at this time originally, and still isn't in the Eastern Church which didn't reorganise along Gregorian lines. Also worth mentioning is that many of the Christian festivals shared the same dates as Roman and, especially, Jewish ones not as a way to convert the masses but as a way to hide what would remain often proscribed practices until after the death of Julian the Apostate. Some of the dates we have now are, in fact, entirely due to Constantine's abhorrence of the Jews (for example Sunday being the day of rest and not Saturday) and his determination to distance Christianity from its Jewish origins, something he shared with a number of Church fathers." Novium 08:56, 20 January 2006 (UTC)


This cannot be right. If Saturnalia is 17-23 December, then how can:

It has been postulated that Christians in the fourth century assigned December 25th as Christ's birthday (and thus Christmas) because pagans already observed this day as a holiday.

be true (the 25th being outside the range)?


I read somewhere that the Saturnalia officially lasted from the 17th until the 23rd at some point in time; mostly, though, they would keep on partying for several days after. That might explain the gap between the 23rd and the 25th. FoekeNoppert 15:49, Oct 11, 2004 (UTC)
December 25 was actually another holiday in ancient Rome: It was celebrated as the birthday of Mithras. As the Mithraic mysteries were in major competition with Christianity for influence in the Roman Empire, it has been suggested that the setting of December 25 as "Christ Mass" was a canny appropriation made to counter the Mithraic threat. As to whether this is actually so, I don't know, but shall investigate. Emyth 22:10, Mar 6, 2005 (UTC)
If an external source could be found, IMHO this info qualifies for the article too. Sezz Rursus 12:58, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
No, it doesn't. The article is (or purports to be) about Saturnalia, not about Mithras' birthday, or Jesus', or any other observance. While this information about Mithras' birthday is interesting and does shed light on the relation between Saturnalia and Christmas, it doesn't belong here; perhaps it could go in Novium's proposed "Christmas and Saturnalia" article. --Dodiad 08:23, 10 December 2006 (UTC)
Mithras' "birth" was actually a Persian God whose birth was celebrated around this date but to say that Mithras was the Roman god who got the honors on this date is not completely true. This holiday was already "reserved" for a God in Roman tradition. Prior to Mithras' adoption from Persia to Greece to Rome, the Romans believed in a god called Attis who was a son of the virgin Nana. (Sound familiar?) So, the holiday was already in place, they just attributed different gods to the festival in different eras. Floracalifornia 18:08, 21 December 2006 (UTC)
  • In the Julian calendar (in use until the from 45 BCE to the AD 1580s), the winter solstice, and therefore Saturnalia, would be on or about the 25th, depending on the year (the leap day was irregularly imposed). -- Dystopos 04:50, 15 December 2005 (UTC)
  • "about" is not the same thing as 'on', and given by how VERY much the roman calendar fluxuated, it's fairly silly to peg anything down to a specific date, except to get a general idea when it was....for pete's sake, there was one year in which they needed to add FOUR intercalendary months to have the calendar roughly match up with the year.

Novium 19:35, 24 December 2005 (UTC)

The Romans celebrated the solstice on Dec. 25 every year even though the date of the astronomical solstice varies from year to year (and was never actually on December 25). The astronomical solstice in ancient times fell between December 20 and December 24. Saturnalia was a different holiday which occured on Dec. 17. Kauffner 13:53, 5 May 2006 (UTC)

Christmas linked Holidays[edit]

the problem with retroactively categorizing holidays is that there is no real stopping point, do we then have to take all pre-christian midwinter celebrations plus Christmas and put them in a category called Newtonmas or Winterval linked holidays which would then all go into a category called Humanlight linked holidays or Festivus linked holidays. There's already a list of winter festivals —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 19:08, October 23, 2005

I agree that Category:Christmas-linked holidays is a poorly-named category (see Category talk:Christmas-linked holidays). While you seem to have a problem with the linkage between saturnalia and christmas, others see a rather obvious connection. I think a category of some sort is needed, but perhaps one that does not focus primary attention on christmas would be more appropriate. olderwiser 19:45, 23 October 2005 (UTC)


Is the original Latin really needed? It doesn't seem like a useful thing to have. I put it in because the quote is so applicable that some people seem believe that it's a fake. robindch 2005-12-14 00:19:59

The unfortunate difficulty is that the latter part of the English translation (after the ellipsis) and the Latin segment do not match up. I think the Latin segment merely continues onward in the work while the English portion skips to the next relevant part. I'm looking for the full Latin text now so as to be able to rectify that problem. - Cuivienen 03:05, 21 December 2005 (UTC)
Corrected the Latin text per Intratext's transcription. Rcharman 21:39, 22 December 2005 (UTC)
Thanks RobinDCH 2005-12-23 15:46:17 GMT

How Christmas Day Was Decided[edit]

"December 25th was previously the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun in Rome and honored the Etruscan god Sol. In 10 B.C. the god was changed to Apollo and in the 2nd century to the Persian deity Mithras. Mithras lived six centuries before Christ and was the son of the Supreme god of light. His birth was attended by sheperds and he was sent to slay the huge bull of creation. Mithras had a last supper of bread and wine with his followers before he died and it was believed that he would return at the end of time to judge the dead." - Christine O’Keeffe

The Emporer Constantine was high-priest of the cult of the Unconquered Sun, Sol Invictus whose principal symbol, obviously enough, was the sun, generally depicted as being behind the head of the high priest. Hence the contemporary coinage which had Constantine's head surrounded by a spiked halo. The halo then seems to have been appropriated for use in more general religious representational art. Regardless of the halo, I think the linkage between Constantine and Sol Invictus does suggest that Christmas was chosen to fall on the 25th because of its usage within the Mithraic tradition. However, this fact isn't really appropriate for this page. RobinDCH 2005-12-23 15:55:11 GMT

I don't see any reason to believe that the date of Christmas was chosen as part of a plot to knock the wind out of the sails of some pagan holiday or other. Africanus identifies December 25 as the date of Christ's birth in Chronographiæ (AD 221). So the date of Christ's birth was fixed before December 25 was linked to Sol Invictus. Since it was considered to be the date of the winter solstice, Christians and Mithras worshippers could have picked it independently. Kauffner 15:29, 29 April 2006 (UTC)
Chrysostom disagrees: "On this day also the Birthday of Christ was lately fixed at Rome in order that while the heathen were busy with their profane ceremonies, the Christians might perform their sacred rites undisturbed. They call this, the Birthday of the Invincible One; but who is so invincible as the Lord? They call it the Birthday of the Solar Disk, but Christ is the Sun of Righteousness."

—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 23:03, 10 December 2006 (UTC).

Being a little provoked by all this Christmas Rambling in this Saturnalia Talk discussion - Yesss! I always knew it -- there's something sinister and EEvil about Xmas - It must be a foul conspiracy enticing clean/pure/perfect white-christian-middle-class-men-with-tie-and-suit to unknowingly worship some evil octopus-headed outer-space-monster!! Rursus 13:05, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Comic Strip[edit]

I have no axe to grind here but I spend some of my spare time looking at random links, and was amazed to see that Saturnalia_(comic) made no mention of the Roman festival. It's a shame when the historical origin of a name is lost, and I have previously fixed Roman Holiday and attempted to fix Wreck of the Hesperus (linking to Longfellow's poem) but I was told I was wrong and it was reversed. OK - sometimes I'm wrong but I'd still like to know where they got their name (anybody...?..) I did check the existence of the plainly bawdy strip before I cross- linked. If you are going to delete the linkage again, why? There are so many reusages of names today that I like to provide tracing. I've not yet come across "Banana Messenger" which used to be a person sent to watch over a rail shipment of bananas and is now a girl's backpack (well, maybe a boy could use it).Carrionluggage 03:27, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

That is an issue to bring on on Saturnalia's page. Dread Lord CyberSkull ✎☠ 22:39, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Saturnalia and Christmas[edit]

User:Novium has been removing a section about Saturnalia and Christmas, putting it into a peculiarly named stubby article Saturnalia and christmas (sic). First, I have no doubt that that section could be improved; however, this article is very short and the content is relevant (IMO at least) to this article. I see no reason to remove that content out of this short article into a stupidly-named stub article where the only link to that article is from this one. olderwiser 03:40, 23 January 2006 (UTC)

Miscapitalized is different than misnamed. Instead of sniping, here's a novel approach: actually address my concerns here on the talk page! wow! what a concept! Novium 01:23, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

And what might those be? Have you articulated them somewhere? The Wiki software doesn't facilitate mind-reading. olderwiser 02:28, 25 January 2006 (UTC)

Obviously for you it doesn't facilitate plain old reading either. Scroll up. Novium 19:36, 27 January 2006 (UTC)

I believe there may be some connection between Christmas and Saturnalia, but in my studies we always noted a much closer connection between Saturnalia and Twelfth Night (the holiday after which the play is named). There is the obvious similarity, for example, of masters and servants being switched. In fact, the Wikipedia article on Twelfth Night (holiday) makes the connection, linking to the Saturnalia page and also gives a good description of the connection to Christmas (a more plausible explanation of the connection than this page has). I would suggest that at the very least some link be made to Twelfth Night (holiday) and perhaps that could replace or supplant the somewhat unrelated discussion of Christmas and Pagan traditions. Npdoty 05:29, 7 June 2006 (UTC)

I am all for creating a seperate page for discussions on christmas, or survivals of saturnalia or whatever, and then just having a link on this page to that.

My only concern is that the current "Saturnalia and Christmas" section is VERY poorly worded. I couldn't really understand what point that was trying to be reached. It may be worthwhile for someone with a better understanding of the intended statement to rewrite it for clarity. (talk) 21:05, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

Decorated Holiday Evergreen Predates Christmas Tree[edit]



3 For the customs of the peoples are worthless; they cut a tree out of the forest, and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.

4 They adorn it with silver and gold; they fasten it with hammer and nails so it will not totter.

5 Like a scarecrow in a melon patch, their idols cannot speak; they must be carried because they cannot walk. Do not fear them; they can do no harm nor can they do any good."


That's an Old Testament book referring to the practices of heathens. Are you trying to say that there were Christmas trees before Jesus? :-?

-i have made this a separate talk section because it draws back to a key issue within the Christmas section of the article. This is the first citation made to support existence of a decorated winter tree. The question remains, Who practiced this? if the Romans did this for saturn then:

"The Romans often cut down evergreens and decorated them to pay homage to Saturn, the god of farming. This was to honor the fact
      that the evergreens remained alive during the harshness of winter."

is relevant to the Saturnalia "origins" section. i have also found uncited sources supporting this roman tradition:

"In the Western world, most experts consider our use of trees during the winter holidays as derived from Rome. The Romans exchanged tree boughs with friends for luck. The Roman winter festival was celebrated by decorating the house with tree boughs and greenery. Trees were paraded around with candles and trinkets attached to the branches." -Trees of Christmas Past: A Brief History of Holiday Tree Traditions by Dr. Kim D. Coder

anybody got a better source?

note that this issue is not about whether the christmas tree originated from the romans, but only whether the romans had decorated Saturnalia trees or not. 19:35, 29 November 2006 (UTC)


How could historians miscalculate the death of Jesus? It was clearly on Nisan 14, the time of the Passover meal on the Jewish calendar, which always falls in the spring time. Dec 25 is quite a miscalculation. Thereisnosanta 20:07, 24 August 2006 (UTC)

If Christ was conceived on the same day he died, he'd have been born around 25 December. In fact, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 25 March. Argyriou 05:06, 20 September 2006 (UTC)
I don't mean to be a killjoy, but there are no contemporaneous records of the birth or death of any celebrity-prophet named Jesus before about 1,946 years ago, nor are there even any contemporaneous records or archaeological artifacts supporting the existence of the town of Nazareth 2,006 years ago. Trying to pin down an actual birthdate for Jesus, then, is about as fruitful as trying to pin down an actual birthdate for Super Mario. — Tonyfuchs1019 11:08, 6 October 2006
even though I believe this discussion is not all that relevant to this article, I must say you are wrong. it is as fruitful of trying to pin down the actual birthdate of oh, say, 99% of people alive in the ancient world. Novium 19:57, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
The Immaculate Conception is the conception of Mary, Mother of God. So that has no bearing on when Jesus was born.--NeilEvans 17:50, 27 October 2006 (UTC)
Yes, he means the Incarnation, which is on 25 March. The Immaculate Conception is on 8 December. It's a common mistake to confuse the two. 20:48, 24 November 2009 —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

Jesus was born on September 29 of the year 7 B.C[edit]

Jesus was born on september 29 of the year 7 B.C. as astronomical calculation have clearly established on the ground that the "star" of the Mathaeus (II 1-12) and Lucas (II 1-20) narratives that was seen a first time by the wise men of the east (zoroastrian priests and astrolgists)on May 29, had desappeared and was seen a second time in september ! It was not a star, a nova, or a comet but the result of the conjunction of 2 planets Jupiter and Saturn . This very bright conjunction that resplended in the night more than the moon was seen 3 times in the year 7 B.C. The three "Kings" who were searching for the "star" that they saw on May 29, saw it the second time on September 29: "Videntes autem stellam gavisi sunt gaudio magno valde" (Math II 10), a month during which palestinian shepherds stay out during the night with their flocks of sheep (Luc II 8). The third apparition of the conjunction was on December 4 , a cold month in Palestina in which sheep are held within stables. This corresponds to the narrative of the Mathaeus and Lucas evangelia. The exact dates of the apparition of the conjunction have been confirmed by modern astronomists [David W. Hughes. Nature 264(1976) 513] . The Roman church displaced the date of the Nativity in 336 to the 25 december, so that it whould coincidate with the celebration of the "dies solis invicti natalis" and of the oriental god Mithra, as she had made often replacing pagan festivities with the commemoration of saints. declari IP December 3, 2013. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:45, 3 December 2013 (UTC)


As far as I can tell, "vagaring" is not a word in English or any other language. Can somebody suss out what the author was trying to say and replace this with a real word?

  • the whole passage was something of a i removed it. Also, i didn't catch its sources... Novium 22:22, 1 October 2006 (UTC)
    • NOTE**: Vagary - An extravagant or erratic notion or action; flight of fancy.

[Originally a "roaming tour", ramble, from Latin "vagari", to wander, from "vagus", wandering, undecided, VAGUE.] *From this it would appear that a Vagaring Roman Calendar is a calendar with movable (wandering), religious feasts similar to a Ecclesiastical calendar with moveable feasts that change to different dates from year to year. However, "Vagaring" might not be the proper form to use. Proper form might be "Vagary Roman Calendar". (See "Liturgical Year")* - Catoni--Catoni 21:11, 16 October 2006 (UTC)


When was Saturnalia popularly observed? (What span of years, not what days of the year.) Somegeek 21:54, 4 December 2006 (UTC)

The Link Between Saturnalia and Christmas Is Important[edit]

It presents a lot of questions about the factual accuracy of the Catholic/Christian account of Jesus of Nazareth's life. Questions a lot of Christians would like to sweep under the rug. Why? If December 25th is NOT the birthday of Jesus of Nazareth, what else might be fictionalized? These things should be looked into! Do most Christians even know Jesus' real name? --i tried to throw a yo-yo away. it was impossible 06:06, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Deary deary me. December 25th likely an arbitrary date?! my god, no one knows that! It's all been a conspiracy.... Novium 20:32, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

Novium, there is enough of a popular belief that Christmas was chosen to be on December 25 as a method of co-opting Saturnalia that discussing the theory, even if to demolish it, is relevant to this article. I removed the dispute tag, and the really awful paragraph about Christmas trees and stuff. Argyriou (talk) 00:52, 6 February 2007 (UTC)


The Origins section seems to be a copyvio of Please rewrite or cite it ASAP. --Slgr@ndson (page - messages - contribs) 01:30, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

  • it is cited, and the link you provided has nothing related to saturnalia. Novium 18:08, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

Too much time on your hands[edit]

My god (pardon the pun), some of you have far too much time on your hands! Novium, I can clearly see your a man (I hope I got the gender right?) who likes to keep an 'open' mind about things..... 16:39, 2 January 2007 (UTC)Martinus

What a gay holiday[edit]

A recent editor added, "and occasional homosexual relationships between men." It would be nice to cite a source that claimed it was any more common during Saturnalia than any other Roman party. Somegeek 22:56, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

yes, it would be. I'm sorry I didn't catch that for nearly a whole year. I've tried to clean up the article as best I can, removing that, and the laughable suggestion of human sacrifice. sometimes I think this article should be protected for the entire holiday season.Novium (talk) 22:02, 27 December 2007 (UTC)

Non-Christian Xmas?[edit]

I deleted the Christian "tag" before the word Christmas, as there is no such thing as a non-Christian Christmas. 21:01, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes there is. Many people celebrate a largely (or entirely) non-Christian Christmas, which focuses on family, presents, parties, cards, children, Santa, snow... Christmas is celebrated as a secular festival in Japan; it is celebrated by Muslims as well as Christians in Lebanon. You may feel there ought not to be a non-Christian Christmas, but that's another matter. (talk) 15:33, 9 September 2014 (UTC)

Saturnalia in the Talmud[edit]

I have added a small section about the Talmudic reference to Saturnalia. Since the Talmud is almost contemporary with ancient Roman civilization I thought it would be another good source. However perhaps it is off topic - in which case emend as necessary.Commontater 14:08, 2 December 2007 (UTC)

No, such references would be useful. Saturnalia was still being celebrated when the talmud was compiled. Roger Pearse (talk) 21:43, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
It had been deleted, I brought it back with sources. Ian.thomson (talk) 02:04, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Excellent. I wish Macrobius was online; that ought to be a pretty definitive Saturnalia reference. Roger Pearse (talk) 21:11, 22 December 2009 (UTC)

Is there aconnection between Saturnalia and Carnival, Lent, Mardi Gras?[edit]

Thanks, Rich (talk) 03:44, 10 February 2010 (UTC)

1st Saturnalia off by ~250 years[edit]

Just noticed this - it gives date of 1st Saturnalia as "217 BCE" to revive citizen morale at loss of Lake T. However Livy states in Roman History Book II (section 21): For the next three years there was neither settled peace nor open war. The consuls were Q. Cloelius and T. Larcius. They were succeeded by A. Sempronius and M. Minucius. During their consulship a temple was dedicated to Saturn and the festival of the Saturnalia instituted.

This would put the 1st Saturnalia in ~497BCE. Can someone please double check before any changes made to page? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:08, 14 December 2010 (UTC)

Jupiter is Zeus, not the father of Zeus[edit]

This article contained the statement:

Most relevantly, Saturn is the father of Rome's primary god, Jupiter (Zeus-pater), meaning father of Zeus.

That is not correct. As both the articles Jupiter and Zeus state, they're the same god in a different language. Jupiter explains the etymology. I've removed the claim. Groogle (talk) 03:54, 11 March 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, I think it was originally "Father Zeus," and then someone well-meaning but not well-studied put an "of" in there. I'm gonna restore it, put quotes around it, and capitalise Father to try to make that a little more clear. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:53, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
That was my careless edit, sorry. Paul August 16:03, 11 March 2011 (UTC)
Actually Jupiter means Father of Heaven, not Father Zeus. See Talfourd Ely, The Gods of Greece and Rome, pg 23. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:46, 17 July 2011 (UTC)

The Roman and Greek Pantheons are Distinct[edit]

The description of the deity Saturn in the article describes the Greek deity Chronos. Uranus and Gaia are Greek deities, as is the concept of the Titans. In the same way Jupiter is not the same as Zeus, and the Jupiter predates the Greek cultural influence on Ancient Rome (the name actually means father of heaven, not father Zeus). The Roman pantheon and spiritual beliefs were not adopted from the Greeks as the article, and many books, suggest, however there was eventually a huge Greek influence on Roman mythology, and Greek mythology was eventually incorporated into Roman mythology over a long period of time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:42, 17 July 2011 (UTC)


First paragraph of article implies gambling was not permitted in Rome normally. Gambling was common in Rome, there were areas of the city dedicated to it. So if they meant it was more common the article should be edited to convey this clearly. Otherwise, it is blatantly false. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:00, 2 September 2012 (UTC)

Dubious material in the last section[edit]

I can't find any ancient sources that attest to the eating of human-shaped biscuits (crustulae?) at the Saturnalia. Is this perhaps the misconception of a non-specialist confused about the sigillaria figurines?

I also don't know what "dance-like singing" means. Does it mean singing performed with dance steps? And if so, again what ancient sources describe this activity? A reliable source will specify what ancient passages support his claims about how the Saturnalia was celebrated. Cynwolfe (talk) 16:20, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

I've tagged the cookies again, which have been changed to 'delicacies', though that makes no sense: if they were shaped like humans, they were probably cookies or pastries, not pâté or something like that. But we still need to know why this modern source—which isn't a very scholarly one—thinks the Romans ate such a thing, as in researching the rest of the article I didn't come upon this detail. Also, 'jovial singing' is hardly evidence that Christmas customs were influenced by the Saturnalia, since almost any festival will have singing. Cynwolfe (talk) 02:57, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree that the whole section is highly problematic and poorly sourced, but just like you I think that it is not entirely without merit and the subject too interesting and relevant to simply remove the content wholesale. Especially the part about groups such as the Puritans and Jehova's Witnesses acknowledging a pagan origin of Christmas is uncontroversial. Therefore I have restored it, and I submit that it should be moved to the talk page at least, not just got rid of and forgotten about completely. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 20:39, 24 December 2013 (UTC)

"particularly the practice of gift giving, which was suppressed by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages". Source is dubious.[edit]

The quoted source for this statement is a modern text that does not itself give any sources for this statement. Also it does not say if there was a general church-wide suppression of the custom or maybe only action by this or that local bishop or local ruler (the latter seems intuitively more likely, given the state of the medieval church). -- (talk) 13:48, 15 December 2012 (UTC)

These kinds of influences are hard to trace, and people tend to overstate or misunderstand what scholars can document. I've been on the lookout for more reliable sources to illuminate the transitional period mainly from the 4th to 6th centuries, and my impression so far is that observances of the Saturnalia become entangled with the Brumalia. Scholars tend to document influence by looking at ancient Roman practices that were suppressed either through Imperial edict, or locally, as by bishops and councils—that is, the need to suppress the activity as un-Christian is taken to indicate that enough people were participating to make it a problem. In some cases, if the practice itself was deemed harmless or even potentially beneficial, it may have been "Christianized," as seems to have occurred with some Roman commemorations of the dead. Bonnie Effros, a specialist on Merovingian Gaul, has taken a particular interest in the period when Christianity coexisted with the older forms of religion, but I don't know whether she's addressed the Saturnalia as such. It occurs to me to check a couple of other sources, but I'm extremely short of time this week. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:29, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm quite aware that documenting everyday customs of ancient times is often very hard, as people simply didn't write about stuff they considered obvious and normal. Exactly because such documentation is difficult I think Wikipedia should not contain such fairly sweeping statements - unless a reliable source can be provided. The origin of Christmas as a Christian celebration seems to be much more murky than most people think - almost everybody says it's simply a pagan custom taken over by Christians, some people vehemently say the opposite, but few simply say "we don't really know it", which seems to be much closer to the truth. -- (talk) 16:53, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I was intending to agree with you, and seem to have inadvertently riled you. Cynwolfe (talk) 17:10, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
No problem at all, English is not my first language, it was me who misunderstood you. -- (talk) 18:56, 15 December 2012 (UTC)
I don't have a lot of time this week for Wikipedia, but I plan to spend the time I do have on Saturnalia, Brumalia, and other Roman festivals. So if I can't find better sources for the tagged material, I'll consider this support for cutting it. As far as I can see, Roman festivals from November 24 to just after New Year's Day (that is, including up to Epiphany) is a general cultural context for the season as a time of wanton merriment, the wantonness being of concern to the Church, but influence on specific practices are more difficult to document. They seem easier to trace for New Year's celebrations (and elsewhere in Roman Imperial culture the "care of the dead", as for Caristia). The gingerbread cookies seem to be a misconception for the sigillaria figurines, which as far as I know were never edible, but the Romans did have pastries in the shape of things, so I don't want to dismiss others' contributions out of hand. Cynwolfe (talk) 15:43, 16 December 2012 (UTC)
Well, the basic fact is: there is no obvious Christian origin of medieval and modern Christmas customs and even the date itself, especially no way to derive them from a biblical basis, and the holiday was much less important in Early Christianity as far as we can tell (in fact, the earliest Christians in the first century apparently did not even know such a holiday), and only gradually increased in prominence over the medieval period. Therefore, it is suspicious and the search for pagan roots makes sense in principle. The big problem is of course to prove pagan influence or at least make it plausible for each and any single custom, as it is equally probable, on the face of it, that customs were simply invented without any pre-existing model. However, the lack of continuity between Early Christianity and later developments is quite evident and striking. Therefore, the origins of Christmas and the customs surrounding it, even if not necessarily ancient in every or even any case, are clearly not biblical, not apparently Early Christian (at least in the case of the customs), probably not even religious, and thus even if not pagan, at least secular anyway. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:06, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
This is also what I have observed. Note that quite lot of Christmas customs recognized in much of Germanic-speaking Europe (and its colonial legacy) are recorded in Old Norse texts about Yule. One of Odin's many names is even 'Yule Father' (jólfaðr). :bloodofox: (talk) 22:19, 24 December 2013 (UTC)
Indeed, Northern Europe (especially Scandinavia, but also Finland and the Baltic states, and to some extent the Slavic regions), where Christianity only became dominant in the High or even Late Middle Ages (one has to keep in mind that Christianisation proceeded in a top-down process and pagan beliefs lingered on in the broader population even after the ruling class accepted Christianity officially), is no doubt where pagan influence appears most obvious and hardest to deny. I recall reading that in Anglo-Saxon Britain, pagan customs were tolerated more than elsewhere and syncretistic tendencies were particularly strong, as there was no attempt to root out pagan beliefs actively, though the climate changed after the Viking attacks began, although the Vikings re-introduced pagan elements where they settled (see Germanic Christianity). However, for Central Europe, despite quite suggestive cases such as customs surrounding Sinterklaas, the situation is less clear, I think. Whether a specific custom or element is influenced by Roman, non-Christian syncretistic (for example Mithraean), Celtic, Germanic or even Slavic origins or a later development or invention (possibly even quite recent, although there may be pre-existing inspirations), is usually hard to tell: see Pre-Christian Alpine traditions for examples, or Maypole (while Holda, The Wild Hunt and some other folk-tale elements are much more suggestive). While direct proof is usually impossible and scepticism is justified, especially considering our poor knowledge of ancient pagan religions in general, a good case based on circumstantial evidence and non-trivial parallels can be made in some cases at least. Not infrequently resemblances do jump out, and there are indubitable modern parallels for such syncretistic processes, such as straightforward conversion of pagan deities into Catholic saints in Mesoamerica, which makes it facile to reject resemblances between cults and tales of Virgin Mary, saints and other Christian figures (often of dubious historicity) and pagan analogies as purely accidental. One should just avoid the extreme (sceptical or credulous) positions, neither of which are reasonable. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 16:41, 25 December 2013 (UTC)
I think you hit the nail on the head, Florian. :bloodofox: (talk) 17:50, 25 December 2013 (UTC)

Parallel origin[edit]

The Saturnalia and Cronia seem to derive from the Zagmuk: the significance is clear with regality in danger.Aldrasto11 (talk) 05:51, 19 September 2013 (UTC)