A time of licensed disorder and misrule. With the Romans
it was the festival of Saturn, and was celebrated the 17th, 18th, and
19th of December. During its continuance no public business could be
transacted, the law courts were closed, the schools kept holiday, no
war could be commenced, and no malefactor punished. Under the empire
the festival was extended to seven days.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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