The Baltimore Sun

Dec. 17 marked the start of Saturnalia in ancient Rome. Seneca the Younger described the holidays in A.D. 50: "It is now the month of December, when the greatest part of the city is in a bustle. Loose reins are given to public dissipation; everywhere you may hear the sound of great preparations, as if there were some real difference between the days devoted to Saturn and those for transacting business.

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