December 17th. Today is the first day of the weeklong festival of Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture and harvest. This festival has an astronomical character, referring to the sun's yearly course and the commencement of a new cycle. Through December 23rd. the Roman world engaged in merrymaking and the giving of small gifts in honor of the father sun and mother earth. One Saturnalia custom was happily anticipated by the slaves. A feast was held at which the masters served the slaves; this was thought to commemorate that, under Saturn, all men were created equal. On the day of the feast, the master of the house would present the slaves with a small conical hat made of wool; this served as a symbol of their freedom and equality.
Saturnalia was a time of banquets, merriment, and the wearing of fine clothing. It you can, take the time today to dress festively. Embrace the beauty of you as you go about your daily routine. This is also a good time to remember the people in your life whom you might ordinary not give a gift to...a co-worker, a neighbor. Practice some random acts of kindness for those people who are more integral in your life than you might think. These acts need not be material in nature, just sincere expressions of thoughtfulness. Do this for the simple joy it brings. In my case, I am thinking of something nice to do for the man upstairs. He is not always the nicest man in the world, but I do remember how, on the day of the blackout, he offered me a sandwich and a cold drink from his cooler...and refused anything in return.