Christmas markets which now spring up in every self-respecting town and city may have their modern origins from those in Germany – a throwback itself to medieval winter markets and fairs – but December markets were a tradition in ancient Rome.
From the 17 December for a varying number of days, Romans of many centuries celebrated the festival of Saturnalia in honour of the god Saturn. Formal dress like the toga was abandoned for brighter, (the brighter the better) and looser tunics; eating and drinking increased as did gambling; masters, mistresses and slaves swapped places in the pecking order (even if for only a day); and family members and friends exchanged presents.Black Friday? Cyber Monday? Wind back 2000 years to Ancient Rome « Alison Morton’s Thrillers