Roman traditions amusing to study

Seth Jarvis, Editor in Chief

   Ancient Rome is a truly fascinating society. This dead nation formed the base of western society today. On top of this, they had many interesting traditions.

   One of my favorite rituals they had is the holiday of Saturnalia. This holiday took place around the same time as Christmas for us. The holiday was very similar to our traditional day for us. Gifts were given out to everyone’s friends and friendly family gatherings were held.

   The streets of Rome were lit up bright and people would celebrate all through the nights of Saturnalia. The streets were usually dark and very dangerous to traverse, so this was a welcome change to the people there.

   Another tradition the Romans held was a Triumph. A Triumph was a parade that celebrated a general’s accomplishments.

   It started with a general getting permission to cross the Pomerium, a religious border of Rome. No active military personal could cross the Pomerium, so it was a pretty big deal for a general to be allowed to go across.

   The title “Imperator” was given to the general. The general being celebrated was also dressed in a ceremonial purple tunic along with a crown. It is interesting to me that the Romans had him dressed up like a king. The Romans hated kings.

   The people of Rome lined the streets and watched as the general and his men marched through the city. Treasure was marched through the streets along with all the people captured by the general.

   Artwork displaying the victory was marched with the parade. The soldiers with the general had a lot of fun and sang less-than-appropriate songs as they marched.

   The next tradition they had was an odd one; this was the holiday of Lupercalia. This was a celebration of fertility. A ritual sacrifice was held at a cave and then priests would run naked through the streets whipping women. It was said if one was whipped, they would be more fertile. You will learn about this in Julius Caesar during English II.

   This odd tradition continued for hundreds of year, even passed the fall of the Roman Empire. The tradition was eventually replaced by Valentine’s Day after the Pope decided that women getting whipped in the street wasn’t very Christian.

   In a lot of ways, Rome’s ancient traditions were a lot like ours today. In other ways, they were very foreign. I think it is important to look back at these ancient rituals to help us understand them today.