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Topic: Saturnalia party ideas?  (Read 3734 times)
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« on: November 12, 2005 05:49:01 PM »

Every year my DH and I throw a big party in December for the winter solstice.  This year we are doing a "Saturnalia Party."  Here's what our invite says:
Before humankind learned to measure time in twelve month cycles, time was measured by seasons. The changing of the seasons was celebrated with feasts and festivals to make the gods happy. 

The ancient Romans celebrated the festival of Saturnalia in honor of Saturn, the God of Time.  This festival began on December 17th and lasted a week, during which the winter solstice occurred.  The winter solstice is the day of the shortest daylight and longest night. 

Saturnalia was the best of days. It was a time of celebration, visits to friends, and feasting.  The Roman halls were decked with boughs of laurel and of green trees, with lighted candles and with lamps--for the hovering spirits of darkness were afraid of light. Bonfires were lit in high places to strengthen the reviving sun in her course.  The streets were crowded with noisy processions of men and women carrying lighted tapers.   It was also a time of gift-giving, particularly of wax candles and earthenware figurines.

Please join us to celebrate on Saturday,  December 17.

Okay, so I usually just do all the usual party stuff: lots of food and wine, invite lots of people and let the festivities begin.  Our house will be decorated for the solstice: tree, lights, etc, but I thought it might be fun to go the extra mile this year.  Any ideas for food/ party favors/music?  I was thinking about making pannonian hats out of felt, but really--we usually have about 50 people and I don't think I can manage to make that many hats by then! Maybe candles might be cheaper and easier.

Any ideas to make the party more about the Romans and Saturnalia?  (The Saturnalia festival is the pagan root of our x-mas celebration.  Alot of our current traditions come from ancient Saturnalia customs).

Thanks for any ideas!!!
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« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2005 07:23:58 PM »

togas?  bay leaves are a type of laurel.  Ms. Stewart used to use them alot for projects such as topiaries and such on her tv show.

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« Reply #2 on: November 13, 2005 04:47:13 PM »

search for the words 'mulled wine' on this site- its a good winter beverage.... and the romans were rather fond of wine. i can't remember the correct name of this game, but it was quite popular with the romans, especially after lots of wine had been imbibed. take a clay figurine (for some reason, a duck was traditionally used) and place it in the centre of a shallow dish. people would then take turns flicking dregs  (the bits of grape skin and seeds which would accumulate at the bottom of a glass of roman wine) at the figurine, with the aim of hitting it.

the above game has the potential to be a bit messy, but a variation could be played with the object being to hit a target with a pinched grape or apple seed (pinch a seed between your thumb and forefinger so that it shoots out- with a bit of practice, you can shoot a seed 5 m).

simple games, like knuckle bones and spinning tops could also be used as (drinking) games. small wooden spinning tops might also make unique party favours.

mediterranian dishes (especially anything made with honey or grape leaves) would also work. while it wouldn't fool the scholars among you, it would be a lot more palatable than traditional stuffed doormouse or fried cricket. trailing ivy could also be used as a decoration- again, its not necessarily traditional but is ever green and is readily available (isn't it? i can never remember- it doesn't snow in auckland and a lot of the plants here are tropical)

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« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2005 05:18:54 PM »

Thanks for the ideas!!  Yeah, last night I googled for ancient roman recipes, and not a one looked like anything I'd cook or eat! 

It's going to be a daytime party.  Since we have a one year old, my days of all night long parties are over.  This is certainly a party for adults, but it's got to be relatively kid friendly, too.  I am certainly planning on having wine, but I don't think there will be many drinking games!

I like the idea of tops, though.  I'll see if I can find any for cheap.
« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2005 07:13:20 AM »

a lot of simple children's games which are still played today are based on games from ancient greece, rome, athens etc. (eg, spinning tops, hoops, yo-yo's, even the humble swing originated in rome) i'm sure they would prove entertaining for the kids and be a bit of nostalgic fun for the adults.

antipasto platters might be nice- with olives, crisp bread, stuffed grape vine leaves, lamb.... and less traditiopnal items like marinated feta.


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« Reply #5 on: November 14, 2005 09:53:51 AM »

The Romans usually ate in a reclining position. You could hide your furniture and have throw pillows around for people lay have a lay down while they nosh. Dates and olives are probably a safe food bet.
« Reply #6 on: November 15, 2005 12:59:39 AM »

stuff dates with blanched almonds and a bit of honey- yum. pepper was also a favourite ingredient of the romans, even in sweet dishes (ie, with honey or fruit). even if your food is not authentic, make sure its decadent.

photocopied images of roman gods or religious images would make cheap decorations.

you could also drape your furniture with sheets- to distract from your furniture's modernity, and to be a bit more reminiscent of chaise lounges/ couches. either yourselves (the hosts) or your guests might also like to wear sheet togas, or wreathes of olive leaves (which could be made from green construction paper and a loop of coat hanger wire).

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