February 7, 2023

December 17 marks the beginning of Saturnalia, an ancient Roman holiday celebrating the deity of agriculture and time. Back in Rome, all schools and businesses were closed on the day, making time for the traditional gambling, music, gift-giving and feasting that took place. The festivities would last for a week and have often been called the most cheerful of Roman holidays. Although we no longer celebrate the holiday in quite the same way, Welsh Valley Latin students from 7th and 8th grade had the chance to go to Blackrock Middle School for an afternoon to experience it. We recently interviewed Tancey Li, an eighth grader who was at the Saturnalia festivities.


Charlotte Laetsch: “First off, what schools attended?”


Tancey Li: “Welsh Valley, Black Rock, and Bala Cynwyd. Latin students from Harriton were also there to help around with the activities.”


C: “What did you do at Saturnalia?”


T: “We played Kahoot, had pizza and chips, and there were different activities.”


C: “What was the kahoot on?”


T: “It was a little bit of Latin history and translation and mythology. Me, Kendall, Natalia, Julia, and Paige (a girl that goes to Blackrock) all got first place.”


C: “And what were the activities?”


T: “Stuff like certamen (competitive latin competitions), arts and crafts, like a hand single game, and there was also a latin tic tac toe.”


C: “Would you say the feel of the event was more educational or fun?”


T: “I would say it was more fun. It was a great experience to do so many fun activities there at Black Rock and how much time and effort the Latin teachers at Welsh Valley, Black Rock, and Harriton put into it.”


C: “What was your favorite part of the day?”


T: “I believe my favorite part was rotating throughout the activities and getting to laugh with my friends.”


C: “How did it feel to be celebrating a holiday that has existed for thousands of years?”


T: “I feel really proud and happy to be able to celebrate Saturnalia in such a modern time. It feels good to be able to know that I’m a new generation still living up to the expectation of the olden Roman times.”


C: “Do Latin students celebrate other Roman holidays?”


T: “I believe not, as of what I know now. I only went to Saturnalia.”


C: “Is there anything else you would like to say or talk about?”


T: “Latin is not a dead language; you use it every day”. 


Thanks to Tancey for taking time to be interviewed! Learning about other cultures, past or present, is always a valuable experience. It’s important to know about the people who came before you to learn their way and to keep traditions alive. Saturnalia was a great experience for all the Latin students throughout the LMSD district and hopefully there will be more similar celebrations in the near future. 


Work Cited “Saturnalia: Meaning, Festival & Christmas.”, 13 September 2022, Accessed 10 December 2022.


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