When businesses and schools and normal life comes to a halt; when houses sport greenery; people sport color, friends sing, feast, party, and give gifts… we all know the holiday, of course.
It's Saturnalia, the jolliest of ancient Roman festivals! Or at least it was in times past, and it happened just this time of year, celebrated at the Winter Solstice, (which is today in the Northern Hemisphere). The woolen bonds usually strapping the feet of Saturn's statue were loosened so he could disrupt the usual order of things and make uproarious mischief. Riotous and raucous, Saturnalia intended to shake everything up. But why?
Saturn was the god not only of harvest, but also of sowing new seeds; of abundance and also dissolution, and required periodic liberation for renewal. In other words, the total chaos of Saturnalia is meant to so shake the rule of the status quo that the seeds of something new and surprising might actually find purchase underneath the madness.
It is the path to creativity—this kind of upending. At least when my own imagination is dull or my pen dry, turning my routine inside out disorients my tidy habits of thinking long enough for some wild and perfect idea to slip in. I'm all in for a little Saturnalia. Festive, colorful, crazy-making.
Isn't that exactly what we have ahead of us this week… a bit of colorful craziness and chaos? What if we jumped in pondering which patterns in our lives are no longer fruitful or fresh—and loosening those? Habits unbound, order happily suspended?
In your merry-making, I'm hoping that there may there be a bit of mayhem (absolutely insured if there are little tots in your midst). In the frenzy of your gift-giving, may there be a bit of mischief, a wink at those you love. In the commotion of your holidays—playing and feasting and traveling—may there be tiny openings when you least it expect it, where seeds can be sown. Muddle and muss or even a madhouse may be just the creative disarray you need to begin again—freshly—in the new year. Don't despair when peace and decorum get torn open like wrapping paper, or when family fusses begin. Just laugh in the spirit of Saturnalia at work, breaking us open, shaking us up, sowing seeds of surpise for the new year.
So, for now—I'm signing off, shutting down, phone off, feet unbound. Let the mischief begin!
All the best,