Winter Solstice, Saturnalia & The Return of the Titans

Look up at the night sky, many Astronomers, Astrologers are excited as Saturn the Lord of the Rings planet and Jupiter will loom the closest to Earth since March 4, 1226 roughly 800 years ago. Apparently these two Titan planets were even nearer on July 16, 1623, unfortunately for the Renaissance era sky watchers, the duo were too close to the Sun to observe.

Jupiter is close by in the alignment with our gem of a planet. Many folks claim it resembles the Christmas star. It’s also the Winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere beginning December 21st 5:02 EST.

Sunrise at Stonehenge on Winter Solstice , photo credited to Mark Grant Released under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5. via Wikipedia

Saturn, was once revered by the Romans as a deity, also known as old ‘Father time,” Cronus’ to the Greeks. Saturn was a Titan representing a spirit of agriculture, who reigned over a golden era of time. He was the Lord of Abundance and introduced folks to planting seeds and the arts.

Zeus in Greek mythology once banished Cronus from the sky and Cronus traveled the Earth as an old man sporting a robe until he met up with the god Janus, who permitted him to enter Rome where Cronus became a gatekeeper of Rome’s treasures along side Janus.

Saturn and his companion Ops, governed over the Roman holy day of Saturnalia which was an ancient Roman festival celebrated each year from December 17th to December 23rd where the people let loose with partying, drinking, exchanging with each other presents. Eventually, Rome put an end to paganism and Christianity dominated the culture. Some parts of Saturnalia over time, were morphed into the Christian Christmas season such as gift-giving and joyful music.

The wilder parts were left out such as the ‘King of Misrule,’ where the class order was inverted and the ruling class would wait upon their slaves. Each household appointed a King of Misrule who gave commands and everyone in the home would follow the orders.

The King Drinks (between 1634 and 1640) by David Teniers the Younger, showing a Twelfth Night celebration with a “Lord of Misrule” via Wikipedia

In Christianity, the dynamic duo Jupiter and Saturn, have been identified by some theologians as symbolizing the Biblical God’s two witnesses written by the Apostle John in the Bible’s book of Revelation chapter 11: 3-19.

Jupiter: Is the 5th planet from our Sun in our Milky Way solar system.

Jupiter was also revered as a deity by the ancient Romans, known as the god Zeus in Greek mythology. Jupiter has many names such as Jove, Lord of Light and Deus Pater. Jupiter was a Titan, an offspring of Saturn and Ops. Jupiter the ancient Roman god was known as the supreme ruler over Rome’s pantheon of deities. Jupiter commanded the sky elements lightning and thunder, he was known to have a good sense of humor. His day was Thursday and was revered on each month’s Ides, which was the 13th and sometimes the 15th. Jupiter had many festivals each year involving grapes and wine.

Jupiter in a wall painting from Pompeii, with eagle and globe via Wikipedia

Enjoy the Winter Solstice and the many holidays that surround it.

Source & Reference:

 Image: Painting entitled ‘Saturnalia’ (1783) by Antoine Callet via Wikipedia

*Miller, John F. “Roman Festivals,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome (Oxford University Press, 2010)

*BBC, 2012. Did the Romans invent Christmas?. [Online]
Available at:

*Simpson, J.A.; Weiner, E.S.C. (1989). “Jupiter”. Oxford English Dictionary8 (2nd ed.). Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-861220-6.

*Evans, James (1998). The History and Practice of Ancient Astronomy. Oxford University Press. pp. 296–7. ISBN 978-0-19-509539-5.

Author: Nifty Buckles

Nifty Buckles folklore writer shares Folklore from around the World

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