Press Releases

A Traditional Christmas...the Roman way!

Ever wonder what customs and traditions of mid winter festivals past? There is an opportunity to experience Christmases past at the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon on Saturday 10th December, 11:00am to 4:00pm.

The Romans celebrated with a festival called Saturnalia – it was a time of feasting, present giving, games and fun – and also gladiator fights! But there’s also a chance to say ‘Happy Yule’ to the Viking band (but watch they don’t start marauding!) or dance the ‘Grizzly Bear’ at the 1920’s style party. There will be plenty of activities to keep everyone entertained – as well as a traditional mince pie and a glass of mulled wine!
The craft stalls will be selling a range of festive gift ideas or for something a little more unique, how about making your own present - candle rolling, pomanders and marbling paper are all on offer (small charge applies). The Morris dancing troop, ‘The Widders’ will also be performing in the afternoon.
Enjoy the Christmas celebrations inside, before stepping out into the snowy Roman garden and back in time to Saturnalia! Visitors might be surprised to see just how many Saturnalia traditions are mirrored in our 21st Century winter celebrations.
Victoria Le Poidevin, Events officer at National Roman Legion Museum, said, “Saturnalia was a time to give gifts to friends and family just like Christmas; and we’ve got plenty of Festive cheer to share – from Craft stalls to creative chaos!”
“In Roman times the popular entertainment was watching gladiator fights, and we’re continuing that tradition by letting people, children and adults, have a go at gladiator fighting against our champions!”
 “You can also join the party atmosphere of a 1920’s Christmas, with toys, food and dances from the period – anyone for the ‘Grizzly Bear’?! Or join the Vikings around their fire and share in their mid winter festival; but keep an eye on them, they like to go raiding!”
“Enjoy a modern Christmas where you can shop for gifts you won’t find on the high street at our craft stalls, make a Christmas wreath or indulge in some festive food and drink.
“There are activities to keep the whole family amused so come and enjoy the festive spirit of the Romans. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year or, as the Romans would say, “Io bona Saturnalia”!”