So it was in old Israel: the Sabbath was one of the stated religious feasts, like the new moon and the three great .agricultural sacrificial celebrations (Hosea ii.
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.
Here we have a series of celebrations representing the occupations of the successive seasons, addressed sometimes to numina who developed later on into the great gods of the state, such as Jupiter, Mars or Ceres, sometimes to vaguer divinities who remained always indefinite and rustic in character, such as Pales and Consus.
In the i 5th and 16th centuries the celebrations consisted of bull-fights.
The transition from this point of view to an almost superstitious adoration of Plato was natural; and Ficino, we know, joined in the hymns and celebrations with which the Florentine Academy honoured their great master on the day of his birth and death.