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5 Ancient Holidays Way More Badass Than Christmas

Christmas is nice and all, but it’s just not hard rock enough. Sadly, most of the Christmas hams I’ve eaten haven’t been torn from the still-living flesh of a wild boar while gangs of vikings pour vodka in my eyes. That’s why this year I’m turning to history to find out what winter holidays were like before Santa got his sissy little paws all over them. Here are the most badass holidays from olden times.

 

Saturnalia (Ancient Rome)

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Let’s start with the one everybody knows. Saturnalia, better known today as “that holiday that somehow eventually became Christmas,” was a weeklong Roman festival honoring the god Saturn. Apparently Saturn was into some freaky sh*t, because they spent most of the week getting really drunk while screaming “Yo! Saturnalia!” at each other   (seriously).   The week held plenty of other fun diversions, like letting slaves pretend to be free, gambling legally, and offering Saturn the corpses of people killed in a gladiator event they held right beforehand. Sounds like a party!

 

Karachun (Slavic Peoples)

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You wish you could party like the ancient Slavs partied. They believed in a sun god, Hors, whose enemy– the awesomely-named Black God– kills him on the longest night of the year. On this night, the Black God’s powers are at their peak, and the Slavs must ward away his evil the only way they knew how:   line-dancing.   To hell with your Christmas, Halloween, and hoedowns. Slavs get it all done in one night.

 

Feast of Fools (Western Europe)

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Europeans in the Middle Ages thought Saturnalia was cool, but would have been a whole lot cooler if they did the whole thing in a church. They’d temporarily fire all the important-looking church guys and replace them with random dudes, whose nicknames included the “Lord of Misrule” and the “Pope of Fools.” Yup, back in the days when maybe not being 100% sure about the whole God thing would get you executed in a heartbeat, European peasants spent Christmas getting wasted in church and making fun of the Pope.   Black metal might be 600 years older than we thought.

 

Beiwe Festival (Finland)

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Okay, try and follow along here. The Sami, indigenous people of Finland, have a goddess of sanity named Beiwe who gets her own holiday in December. On this day Beiwe flies around in a sleigh made of reindeer bones, making her some kind of super-efficient psychopathic Santa. “If reindeer can fly, why not just kill them all and make my sleigh out of their magic bones? Ho ho ho! Come here, Rudolph…” To get into the Beiwe spirit, the Sami do two things: 1. kill a reindeer and wrap its bloody flesh around ribbon-covered wreaths, and 2. rub butter all over their doors so Beiwe can eat it. Yeah, f*ck your milk and cookies, rest of the world! The Sami Santa gets raw meat and butter. Did I mention she’s the goddess of sanity?

 

Lenæa (Ancient Greece – Ladies Only)

 

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In the civilized days of Ancient Greece, Lenæa (the “Festival of the Wild Women”) was a cute li’l theater festival put on by the Maenads, female followers of the god Dionysus. People would come and watch Aristophanes plays and then maybe have a glass of wine. But a few centuries earlier, the Maenads celebrated the winter holiday a little… differently. That is, they’d get extremely drunk, have a dance party, then   rip a bull (OR A HUMAN) to pieces with their bare hands and eat its flesh and drink its blood, raw.   Happy holidays! Please don’t eat me.

 

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