|The wool cloak keeps out the winter chill|
We approached the East Gate, to find it closed! I have never seen this before, so it was rather a shock. Who would try and bar entrance to the city of the Roman Emperor Domitian? Believe it or not, it was a group of Cavalier soldiers. They soon gave way before the might of the Roman Empire, I can tell you.
|The Emperor Domitian leads the parade|
We marched to the middle of Eastgate street where the Emperor addressed the crowds as only he can. You can see me standing behind the legionary.
After the ceremony where the light from the Emperor’s torch was shared between the legionaries, the Ya Raqs ladies passed out glow sticks to the children, and explained that now the fun can begin. It was lovely to chat to families who said they came every year to watch the Saturnalia parade. So with an even bigger crowd, and shouts of 'Io Saturnalia!', we set off to the Town Hall so the Lord of Misrule could be set free.
This is the point that Saturnalia really begins. Roles are reversed so masters become servants and serve their staff dinner and give gifts. Saturnalia was basically an excuse to party, and party hard. Originally it was one day, Dec 17th, but it grew to a week long festival. This was the point where the Winter Watch parade and Karamba Samba joined us. Chester was party central with samba rhythms and people dancing in the street.
It was a very unusual event, but oddly, I felt appropriate for a place as ancient as Chester. We had 1st century Romans, 17th century Cavaliers and a traditional parade dating from the 1400s up to today. Ya Raqs can happily fit into all of these periods, and we often do!
We left the Winter Watch to carry on partying and went for our own banquet at Convivios
Later on at the banquet I was chatting to a lady who I thought looked familiar but couldn’t place. It was Ruth Downie, the author of the Russo and Tilla mysteries. I am a huge fan and had just finished her latest book Tabula Rasa. Her hero, Ruso is a medic with the XX legion who, with his wife Tilla, a native woman, seems always to have a mystery to solve, this one at the building of Hadrian’s wall. Ruth had travelled up from her home in Devon just to take part in the Saturnalia event. She is a lovely lady and I can’t wait until her next book comes out in July. There was another author there too, Anthony Riches the author of the Empire Series. I had to admit I hadn’t read any of his, but as soon as I can get my hands on a scroll, I plan to remedy that.
It was an evening of good food, good wine and good company. All that is left to do is to get on with my Christmas shopping and to wish you all a very merry Yule and Christmas, hopes for a wonderful 2016 and of course IO SATURNALIA!