Celebrating Saturnalia


Today is Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday with a long tradition here at the Volokh Conspiracy. Perhaps it's only a tradition in so far as I have put up a post about it every December 17 for the last several years. But that's a truly ancient tradition, by blogopshere standards!

The Encyclopedia Romana has a helpful description of Saturnalia:

During the holiday, restrictions were relaxed and the social order inverted. Gambling was allowed in public. Slaves were permitted to use dice and did not have to work. . . Within the family, a Lord of Misrule was chosen. Slaves were treated as equals, allowed to wear their masters' clothing, and be waited on at meal time in remembrance of an earlier golden age thought to have been ushered in by the god. In the Saturnalia, Lucian relates that "During My week the serious is barred; no business allowed. Drinking, noise and games and dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping of frenzied hands, an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water-such are the functions over which I preside."

As usual, this year we have no shortage of strong candidates for the position of Lord of Misrule. Indeed, this year's crop of presidential candidates include some who are particularly well qualified for the position. So well qualified are they, that discussing them in greater detail might put a damper on the holiday season.

Happy Saturnalia to all the friends, Romans, and Volokh Conspiracy readers out there!