Dice

Holiday Activities of Senex Caecilius

The Saturnalia includes the Sigillaria and the Divalia and is quickly followed by the Brumalia and the New Year. The whole period is a time for feasting, merrymaking, and gift-giving. The celebration of the Saturnalia includes the selection of a princeps Saturnalicius, a mock king who presides over the festivities in each household. His command is law! A variety of activities involves children and adults alike. It is the one time during the year when public gambling is allowed, so go for the Venus throw! Perhaps you would like to test your spatial reasoning with some Saturnalian tangrams. Or, test your visual acuity with a game of "I Spy!" Would a game of Concentration hold your attention?

Here are a few additional activities and attractions that you might enjoy.

Saturnalia Cards
Saturnalia Poems
Senile Games
Princeps Pranks
Advent Calendars
Saturnalia Gifts

Did you ever wonder how December came to be named the "tenth" month when it's the last of twelve? Visit The Year in Double-Dactyls to find the answer to that one and to read other verses about facts related to the holiday season: the Saturnalia, the Divalia, the Brumalia, Apophoreta, and Santa Claus, among others.

Here are a few more sites about fun and games in ancient Rome.

  • An illustrated article by Eugenia Salza Prina Ricotti describes various Roman games of chance.
  • The descriptions of nine Roman board games and the directions for playing them are presented by Wally J. Kowalski.
  • A museum exhibit entitled "The Romans in Staffordshire" depicts a board and counters used in a game called ludus latrunculorum.
  • A lecture by Roger Dunkle on "A Day in the Life of An Ancient Roman" includes a short description of the Saturnalia and a depiction of the pilleus on a coin.
  • An article on sports and games in the Roman section of "History for Kids!" describes the games that people played and the games that people watched.
  • The description of a Roman pilleus, otherwise known as a Phrygian cap, is accompanied by a pattern for making one.
  • An illustrated article by Eugenia Salza Prina Ricotti describes various Roman games played with walnuts.


[ return to the Saturnalia ]