Having reigned over the Golden Age, Saturnius (Kronos; Greek) arrived in the area of Rome "dethroned and fugitive". With him, he brought the promise of agriculture and civilization for man and thus was rewarded a share of the kingdom by Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, doorways, passages, and endings. As one of the first gods of the Capitol, Saturnius Mons was seen as "a god of generation, dissolution, plenty, wealth, agriculture, periodic renewal and liberation." So important was his presence in the city of Rome that His temple housed the city's treasury and every year, for over 600 years, Romans celebrated the Saturnalia.
Originally Saturnalia was a farmer’s festival that was celebrated on just one day at the end of autumn. It is believed that Roman soldiers, in need of a morale boost during the 2nd Punic War against Hannibal of Carthage in 217 bce, quickly changed Saturnalia into a two-day event. During Emperor Augustus' reign (63 bce -14 ce), Saturnalia was as a two day event but ended a 7-day affair. Saturnalia was merged with the Festival of Opalia (for Saturn's consort Ops, a mother earth figure) and the Sigillaria, the day of gift-giving and then, by or before 274 ce, culminated in Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the birthday of the Unconquered Sun.
Saturnalia involved role-switching games between masters and slaves, widespread gambling, feasts, a special market, the giving of presents, and sacrifices. Public banquets, the cancelation of executions, refraining from declaring war, a moratorium on any work and matters of state marked the days of Saturnalia. The grand statue of Saturn in his Temple on Capitoline Hill in Rome, whose legs and feet were normally bound in wool, were unbound signifying perhaps the release of the power of freedom from laws and convention.
Throughout its history Saturnalia incorporated many of the practices we associate with modern day Yule and Christmas.
~ Lady Atheona
The Inner Circle Sanctuary is a school for traditional style Wicca and holds eight sabbat festivals every year.