This is a re-posting of a blog from 2010. I was prompted to do so after reading another blog, by a Catholic Priest, who was adamant that Saturnalia had nothing to do with Christmas. Apparently, all though he admitted that Saturn was associated with human sacrifice, the fact that Jesus Christ Himself was a Sacrificed God eluded him! Nevertheless, the same blog was interesting as it pointed out that the available evidence as to dates suggests that the feast of the birth of Sol Invictus is based upon Christmas, not the other way round. See here for more details.
Happy Saturnalia to you all. This is of course the ancient Roman festival that was celebrated from the 17th to the 23rd December, and involved a lot of feasting, revelry and debauchery. And guess what? It was being condemned as sordid and commercial as early as 400 AD! O Tempora – O mores!
The pagan customs obviously survived into the Christian era. In mediaeval times there was elected a “Lord of Misrule” who was the master of revels of the Saturnalia *cough* I mean Christmas period. However, James Frazer (he of The Golden Bough fame) reported that there was at least one incident of Roman soldiers choosing a “Lord of Misrule,” and at the end of the Saturnalia period – sacrificing him on the altar of Saturn.
This got the Sumner family brain cell working. Where had I heard of Roman soldiers doing something like that before? Oh yes! Here:
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band [of soldiers]. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put [it] upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him].
The “coincidences” stack up even further when you consider that Jesus was “sacrificed” on a Cross, which in Hebrew is Tau – the letter associated (in the modern Hermetic Qabalah) with Saturn. Thus, what we have here is Jesus being put through a version of the Saturnalia ritual!
The idea that Jesus Christ is in fact the Lord of Misrule might seem strange at first, although I suspect that it occurred to William Blake in the past, when he made the point in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell that Jesus was all virtue yet he acted from impulse. Thus the “Misrule” of which Jesus was Lord was defiance of the stifling restrictions of old religion which often ran counter to justice.