The celebrations are directly traceable to the pagan Saturnalia of ancient Rome, which in spite of the conversion of the Empire to Christianity, and of the denunciation of bishops and ecclesiastical councils, continued to be celebrated by the people on the Kalends of January with all their old licence.
Ambrosius Macrobius Theodosius (c. 400) wrote a treatise on Cicero's Somnium Scipionis and seven books of miscellanies (Saturnalia); and Martianus Capella (c. 430), a native of Africa, published a compendium of the seven liberal arts, written in a mixture of prose and verse, with some literary pretensions.
1 7, 45; Bellum africanum, 28; Macrobius, Saturnalia, i.
See Plato, Rep. 616 c, Symp. 195 C, 197 B; Macrobius, Saturnalia, i.
He is one of the interlocutors in the Saturnalia of Macrobius, and allusions in that work and a letter from Symmachus to Servius show that he was a pagan.