temple of the god Saturn.
Initially the feast lasted for a day, but it was so popular that it lasted for a week. Businesses and the courts as well as schools closed for days.
During Saturnalia there was a partial reversal of roles for the masters and slaves. The slaves would prepare a feast for themselves and for their masters, and then the masters would pretend to be slaves and do the serving, while the slaves would pretend to be disrespectful masters. People would visit family and exchange gifts of silver, candles, figurines and sweets. They would also light candles and roam the streets (often in the nude) and sing holiday songs. They would also have Christmas trees.
Later on the Christian religion settled in Rome, and it was decided that the birth date of Jesus was on 25 December, even though the Bible indicated that Jesus was born in the spring. The pagans were very reluctant to give up the holiday, and the Christian church changed the name of the holiday from Saturnalia to Christmas.
However, the holiday of Saturnalia did not die out. In the early seventeenth century Christmas was still celebrated with the nude carol singers and drunkenness. Oliver Cromwell, a political leader at the time and a Puritan, banned the holiday outright. However, people liked their Christmas holidays. Oliver Cromwell was poisoned, and Christmas was celebrated again. It was declared an official public holiday in England in 1870.