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Early Roman Celebrations
In the early Roman culture, the people loved celebrations. This was a pagan society which worshiped many gods. The gods were jealous of each other and were always warring with one another. In order to appease the different gods, the Romans held separate festivals to honor each god. It was party time. The parties consisted of many excesses in food, drink and sexual activity. They loved games and we are familiar with the gladiators who fought each other and wild beasts as well. Saturnalia was a feast to honor the god, Saturn. The nobles dressed and acted like slaves and the slaves “became” noblemen. A good time was had by all.
After the fall of Rome and the rise of the Papacy, the festivals were banned. Mysteries or religious dramas became the form of entertainment. This period was originally thought of as the Dark Ages, in contrast to the light of classical Greek and Roman antiquity that came before. It was a time of economic and cultural deterioration and there was not much to celebrate.
During the Renaissance there was a return to festivals. The Roman Carnival became famous and people came from all over the world to participate. The celebration inspired many artists and musicians, including Berlioz and Resipghi. There was even horse racing down the main street in Rome.
Today, Roman Summer or L’estate Romana, is a festival that lasts from June to September. It is a series of open air performances. There are many sites in the city where music, dancing and theater are offered. At the Baths of Caracalla and the Castle of St. Angelo ballets and operas are performed in the open air. There are many piazzas or squares where visitors and locals alike enjoy sitting and enjoying a gelato or sipping an espresso while watching the crowds go by.
Celebrations, parties and festivals are a natural way to express our love and enthusiasm for life. Let the good times roll.