Evergreen decorations, candles in windows, public festivals, gift giving, acts of kindness and charity...sound familiar? For the people of Ancient Rome, Saturnalia was a seven-day festival to celebrate the Winter Solstice as one year ends and another begins. During this time, all Romans — many with different religions, customs, class designations and languages — would gather during this weeklong celebration to feast and make merry. In the Roman tradition, Mr. Yost’s 6th, 7th and 8th-grade Latin students wear togas, prepare old-world recipes, and share a meal to bring their study of Ancient Rome to life for Severn Saturnalia.
To help students dress in Ancient Roman style, Mr. Yost provides examples and instructions to make and wear Roman togas. Students can assemble or buy their own, bring fabric to sew in class or even transform a twin bed sheet with a belt and safety pins. With Mr. Yost's help, where there is a will, there is a toga!
To prepare for the day, Mr. Yost shares recipes and resources for students to make or buy food that would be eaten during Roman times. This includes roasted meats like chicken or pork, simple bread dishes, fresh and dried fruits, honey, and nuts. American staples like tomato, chocolate, corn and turkey wouldn’t be found on Roman tables. On the day of the feast, students prepare their offerings on a long communal table as hungry revelers quickly line up to fill their plates. Following in the hospitable style of Ancient Rome, our Latin scholars invite the entire Middle School to enjoy the meal, welcoming all to share in the festivities.
Memorable Cultural Experience: io Saturnalia!
When learning about world cultures, it’s important for students to have real-life experiences beyond their typical classwork. Although our middle schoolers will never be able to experience Ancient Roman life first hand, Severn Saturnalia gives them a chance to live as the Romans did, if only for one day. This hands-on, experiential event helps our students synthesize much of what they’ve learned about the culture of these ancient peoples while bringing all grades together in shared celebration.
“As I talk to my students about the culture of the Ancient Romans, Saturnalia is a chance for us to bring it all together. It celebrates the diversity of life in Ancient Rome; living it for the day makes it all the more real for them.” — Middle School Latin Teacher Mr. George Yost
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