And what is Satyulemas?
Well it’s actually a festival of my own devising. I use it in my alternate Earth books and stories… however, my family loved the idea of it, so we adopted it for our own purposes. It covers Saturnalia, Yule and Christmas and ends the day after my youngest daughter’s birthday which happens to be the same day as the 12th day of Christmas.
Here’s the facts:
…was an ancient Roman festival in honour of deity Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”.
Of course we haven’t got a temple of Saturn in the UK, so what our family does instead is have a special dinner and donate money to a charity we have all picked. This year it was WWF
…or Yuletide (“Yule time”) is a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples. Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. It later underwent Christianised reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide.
Terms with an etymological equivalent to Yule are used in the Nordic countries for Christmas with its religious rites, but also for the holidays of this season. Today Yule is also used to a lesser extent in the English-speaking world as a synonym for Christmas. Present day Christmas customs such as the Yule log, Yule goat, Yule boar, Yule singing, and others stem from pagan Yule. Today the event is celebrated in Heathenry and some other forms of Modern Paganism.
My version of Yule is to decorate the Christmas Tree (itself a pagan symbol) and have the lights on from sunset to sunrise. Then my family and I have a special meal (bet you didn’t see that one coming *wink*) and for dessert we have a Chocolate Yule log.
If we had a real fireplace or a woodburning stove, we’d burn a proper Yule Log as well… but my kids love the chocolate version!
The “Mas” part of Satyulemas, Christmas is probably one midwinter festival that I don’t need to explain. However, none of my family are Christians anymore for various reasons, so we celebrate the secular version of Christmas. I know that many people will not like this idea, but our children are bombarded with “Christmas” from all angles. At school they get the religious festival, from the TV and shops they get the Material side… it’s very confusing.
So we have always emphasised the secular family side of christmas – the fact that we are all together and we want the day to be as fun for everyone as possible; something which is very difficult to pull off when you have a family full of Aspergers people!
We’ll have breakfast, open presents and then the older two can go and enjoy theirs while we help the little one with hers. Then we’ll have lunch and hopefully fit in a walk or a movie together in the afternoon.
The final celebration of Satyulemas will be PW’s birthday… and everyone knows how birthdays work!
So that’s how we celebrate this season.
I hope that however you celebrate the season, it’s full of family, fun, food and festivities!!