Display of a feast for the festival of Saturnalia in the Activity Centre at Roman Vindolanda.

Learn about the winter festival celebrated by the Romans and how our celebrations today have been shaped by these ancient gatherings.

One of the most famous, and perhaps the most popular, of the Feriae Statiuae was Saturnalia, the feast now most closely associated with Christmas. Saturnalia was celebrated from 17th to 23rd December in the Julian calendar, and it probably originated as a farmers’ festival to mark the end of the planting season, and grew more elaborate as Rome became more powerful and confident.