It’s a Saturnalia Miracle*

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*The Big Bang Theory (S2 E11, “The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis”)

“In the pre-Christian era, as the winter solstice approached and the plants died, pagans brought evergreen boughs into their homes as an act of sympathetic magic, intended to guard the life essences of the plants until spring. This custom was later appropriated by Northern Europeans and eventually it becomes the so-called Christmas tree.”
– Sheldon Cooper, on the festival Saturnalia

lo, Saturnalia!
(Pronounced “eeyo sa-tur-NAL-ee-uh”)

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival celebrated in honor of the god Saturn, an agricultural deity said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age of peace and plenty. Traditional held on December 17th it lasted from one to five days (variously) throughout its history – which continued into the 4th century C.E.

A huge public celebration would be held at the Temple of Saturn in Rome. All Romans (including women and slaves) spent Saturnalia feasting, singing, playing music, putting on satirical plays, and gambling. Equality and free-speech were embraced and role reversals were de rigueur; some slaves would even find themselves being fêted by their masters. Considered free men during the festival of Saturnalia, slaves were allowed to wear the pileus or cap of freedom.

As celebrations continued into the night it’s no surprise that traditional gifts of white candles (cerei) were exchanged. Romans decorated their homes with greenery and the aristocracy traded their traditional togas for brightly colored garments in shades of red, purple, and gold. The people would feast on bread, nuts, dried fruits, cheeses, sweet treats made with honey, nuts and dried fruit, pork, winter vegetables, and plenty of a mulled honey wine called mulsum.

A mock king, the “Lord of Misrule“, would be chosen to serve as a master of ceremonies. The King of Saturnalia was responsible for making mischief during the celebrations and generally ruling over the ever-increasing chaos and debauchery.

Sources:
How to Celebrate Saturnalia December 17th-23rd
Happy Saturnalia! Roman Festive Food
Mulsum recipe
Saturnalia @ History
Saturnalia @ Wikipedia
Saturnalia @ Witchipedia

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Paraskevidekatriaphobia

paraskevidekatriaphobia = Fear of Friday the 13th

From Wikipedia:
Friday the 13th is considered an unlucky day in Western superstition.

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday. While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

According to the Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in Asheville, North Carolina, an estimated 17 to 21 million people in the United States are affected by a fear of this day, making it the most feared day and date in history. Some people are so paralyzed by fear that they avoid their normal routines in doing business, taking flights or even getting out of bed.

GoT::Season 6

Having finished re-watching Game of Thrones, Season 6 can be can be summed up with:
“The Women of GoT:  Doin’ it for Themselves

This male-dominated story has done a 180, placing the Game of Thrones women at the top of the Game – as they shed the “skins” originally given them:  bartered bride, butch lesbian, damsel in distress, bi-sexual mistress, crotchety dowager, evil queen, warrior girl, tomboy, brawn hilda, and hot witch.

    Let’s start with Episode 9:  Battle of the Bastards

  1. Pact between Daenerys Targaryen and Yara Greyjoy
    Yara (Gemma Whelan) and Theon (Alfie Allen) Greyjoy offer Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) their fleet of 100 manned ships if she will help them deal with Euron and support Yara’s claim to the Iron Islands. Daenerys says their fathers all left the world worse than they found it, but they are going to leave it better than they found it. Yara agrees and the “Queens in waiting” seal their pact.

    • Balon Greyjoy (Patrick Malahide):  Father of Yara & Theon; King of the Iron Islands (deceased)
    • Euron Greyjoy (Pilou Asbaek):  Murdered his brother, Balon, after which claiming HIMSELF heir to the Iron Islands; uncle to Yara and Theon

  2. Sansa Stark:  Lady of Winterfell and Queen of the North!
    As it appears the Stark forces are about to lose, a horn sounds out in the distance as Sansa and Littlefinger arrive with the Knights of the Vale waving flags bearing the Arryn sigil – and the battle is over for Ramsay Bolton. Without her intervention, the victory would’ve belonged to Ramsay – with Jon Snow most likely dead. Sansa’s come a long way, transforming from a naive maiden to a strong, self-assured Woman. She looks every bit the Queen here.

    • Lord Petyr Baelish “Littlefinger” (Aidan Gillen):  Lord Protector of the Vale; husband of Lysa Baelish/Arryn/Tully (deceased); arranged the marriage between Sansa and Ramsay
    • Jon Snow (Kit Harington):  Bastard son of Eddard Stark and Sansa’s half-brother; Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch; Lord of Winterfell/King in the North???
    • Ramsay Bolton/Snow (Iwan Rheon):  Bastard son of Roose Bolton; husband to Sansa; Lord of the Dreadfort; Lord of Wintefell (not any more); and murderous sociopath who dies at the jaws of his ravenous hounds (deceased)

  3. Episode 10:  Winds of Winter – season ender

    • Four of the remaining Great Houses that now make-up armies in Daenerys’s faction are now led by women:  Daenerys herself (House Targaryen), Yara (House Greyjoy), Olenna (House Tyrell), and Ellaria Sand (House Martell/Dorne).
    • House Lannister is also formally led by a woman – as Cersei Baratheon/Lannister has not only killed her uncle, Kevan Lannister (in the wildfire explosion), but has openly seized power and declared herself ruling Queen of the Seven Kingdoms.

     

    Whatever the situation is between Jon Snow & Sansa Stark may divide House Stark; and House Greyjoy remains in turmoil due to the outright civil war between Euron & Yara. Three Houses are technically headed by men but none are in any position to lead:  Edmure Tully (House Tully), captive at Riverrun; Robin Arryn (House Arryn), Littlefinger’s puppet child-boy; and whatever is left of House Frey.

  4. Alliance between House Martell (Ellaria Sand) & House Tyrell (Olenna Tyrell)
    Ellaria (Indira Varma) has committed a coup by murdering Doran Martell. Together with the Sand Snakes, she has taken over Dorne and will likely declare war on the Lannisters soon.

    • Prince Doran Martell (Alexander Siddig):  Prince of Dorne and Lord of Sunspear; older brother of Prince Oberyn; uncle to the Sand Snakes; assassinated by Ellaria (deceased)
    • Prince Oberyn Martell “Red Viper of Dorne” (Pedro Pascal):  Ellaria is his paramour/lover; father of the Sand Snakes; bi-sexual; at Tyrion Lannister’s 2nd Trial by Combat, Oberyn volunteers to be his champion – ultimately getting his skull crushed by Cersei’s champion, The Mountain (deceased)
    • Sand Snakes:  Prince Oberyn Martell’s eight (bastard) daughters – Ellaria is the mother of five (Tyene Sand, Elia Sand, Obella Sand, Dorea Sand, & Loreza Sand); loyal to House Martell; call Doran Martell their uncle;

    Olenna (Diana Rigg), “Queen of Thorns”, is the matriarch and real power behind House Tyrell (Olenna is considered to be Tywin Lannister’s female counterpoint). Shortly after the trial of Loras at the Great Sept of Baelor, which is attended by Margaery and Mace Tyrell, the Sept is destroyed in a plot orchestrated by Cersei Baratheon/Lannister. Everyone, including Margaery, Loras, and Mace are burned alive by wildfire – leaving Olenna the sole survivor of House Tyrell.

    • Mace Tyrell (Roger Ashton-Griffiths):  Lord of Highgarden; father of Margaery & Loras and Olenna’s son (deceased)
    • Margaery Baratheon/Tyrell (Natalie Dormer):  Queen of the Seven Kingdoms and wife of Tommen Baratheon, King of the Seven Kingdoms; daughter of Mace; sister to Loras; Olenna’s granddaughter (deceased)
    • Loras Tyrell “Knight of the Flowers” (Finn Jones):  Openly-gay brother to Margaery; son of Mace; grandson to Olenna; heir to Highgarden (deceased)
    • Varys “The Spider” (Conleth Hill):  As a member of the King’s Small Council (House Baratheon at King’s Landing) he served as the Master of Whisperers; is now allied with House Targaryen; eunuch

    Olenna travels to Dorne to meet with Ellaria – who insists that they must work together now, as Queen Cersei has declared war on both of them. Ellaria summons Varys to the meeting. They promise vengeance for Olenna by offering her “fire and blood” (signifying that Ellaria has declared for Daenerys Targaryen, after hearing of her recent alliance with Theon and Yara Greyjoy). Olenna agrees to an alliance with House Martell to exact revenge against Cersei and the Lannisters; and pledges to reinstate the Targaryen dynasty to the Iron Throne (some of House Tyrell’s ships are later seen alongside Martell, Greyjoy, and Daenerys’ own Targaryen ships).

  5. Cersei Baratheon/Lannister – Queen of the Seven Kingdoms

    As he is physically barred from leaving his chambers in the Red Keep, King Tommen (Dean-Charles Chapman) watches in horror as the Great Sept explodes, killing everyone inside (including Margaery, her brother, and their father, Mace Tyrell) – as well as hundreds in the surrounding district. Unable to cope with his wife’s death, as well the knowledge that his own mother was responsible for the deaths of so many, he lays down his crown and commits suicide by jumping from his window.

    After watching the death of her enemies by her own “hands”, Cersei visits a captured Septa Unella she was protecting her last living child, Tommen. However, Cersei once again proves what a poor parent she is by not going immediately to Tommen after his wife is killed in the explosion (and preventing his suicide), as she was too preoccupied with paying back the Septa for imprisoning and humiliating her.

    The final scene is Cersei’s coronation.

    Qyburn:  “I now proclaim Cersei of the House Lannister, First of Her Name, Queen of the Andals and the First Men, Protector of the Seven Kingdoms. Long may She reign.”
    Audience in the Great Hall:  “Long may She reign.”

Although not leading any of the Great Houses that make-up the Seven Kingdoms, these ladies deserve mentioning:

  1. Lyanna Mormont (Bella Ramsey):  She is the young, 10-year-old Lady of Bear Island; the head of House Mormont of Bear Island and the only living heir of a major Northern house
  2. Arya Stark:  Daughter of Eddard & Catelyn Stark; sister to Sansa; Jon Snow is her half-brother; she transitions from being a willful tomboy to a skilled assassin – witness her revenge killing of Walder Frey:
  3. Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie):  Only heir to House Tarth; Brienne’s unusually tall and muscular; she’s skilled at arms, has proven herself to be one of the strongest fighters in Westeros, and always strives to live up to the ideal of a true knight; Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) and she developed respect for one another and consider themselves friends

– and the one main female character who wielded more power than most of the lords right from the start – lost her faith, her way, and finally her Persona as a Woman of Strength, Purpose, and Power:  Melisandre “Red Priestess” “The Red Woman” (Carice van Houten)

Let’s hope she gets it back.

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