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Ancient Holidays and Festivals

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Holidays today tend to be fun, colorful events where people use or wear special items, bestow gifts, and observe time-honored rituals that may make sense to participants. Ancient holidays also served religious and community-building purposes.
  1. Winter Solstice - Christmas / Saturnalia etc.
  2. Vernal Equinox and Spring Celebrations
  3. The Ancient Calendar
  4. Fall Equinox - Halloween / Samhain / Harvest Celebrations

Winter Solstice - Christmas / Saturnalia etc.

Sol Invictus. The Unconquered Sun. From Corbridge.

The winter solstice comes at the time of year when there is the least amount of sun. Solstice celebrations tend to be filled with light from oil lamps or candles, which may be thought of as encouraging the sun, and gift-giving.

Vernal Equinox and Spring Celebrations

Here we're in the realm of Valentine's Day, which had ancient Roman precedents. As a spring celebration, fertility concerns flavor the festivities.

The Ancient Calendar

fasti

Ancient festivals were tied to the calendar. The Roman Fasti, which we use as the Roman calendar, gets its name from the festival days priests created it to show.

Fall Equinox - Halloween / Samhain / Harvest Celebrations

Roman Mummy Mask

The holidays we celebrate as Halloween and Samhain, coming at a time when the barrier between the Underworld and the world of the living is thought to be weak, have ancient precedents, including ceremonies for the ancestral ghosts and mask-wearing occasions.

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