Today is Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday with a long tradition here at the Volokh Conspiracy, which we are now carrying on with reason in our new home. Granted, it’s only tradition insofar as I’ve written a post about it every December 17th for the past few years. But by blogosphere standards, that’s a really old tradition indeed!
The Encyclopedia Romana has a helpful description of Saturnalia:
During the holidays, restrictions were relaxed and the social order reversed. Gambling was publicly allowed. Slaves were allowed to use dice and not have to work. . . A Lord of Misrule was chosen from within the family. Slaves were treated as equals, allowed to wear their masters’ clothing, and waited at meal time in remembrance of an earlier golden age believed to have been ushered in by God. In the Saturnalia, Lucian reports: “During my week the serious is forbidden; no business allowed. Drinking, noise and games and dice, appointment of kings and feasting of slaves, naked singing, clapping of racing hands, occasional crouching of corked faces in icy conditions Water – these are the functions I am in charge of. “
As is so often the case, there is no shortage of strong applicants for the position of Lord of Misrule. One particularly impressive one is on the way out of the White House. But he must not completely disappear from the political scene. And even if he does, there are plenty of other worthy competitors for “honor”.
Happy Saturnalia to all the friends, Romans and readers of the Volokh Conspiracy out there!
NOTE: Much of this post was borrowed from Saturnalia posts from previous years.