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.
Special sacrifices were offered on the kalends, nones, and ides of every month, and on the occasion of important family events.
The Calends, (or Kalends) were invariably the first day of the month, and were so denominated because it had been an ancient custom of the pontiffs to call the people together on that day, to apprize them of the festivals, or days that were to be kept sacred during the month.
For a moment the idea was entertained of giving way to the opposition and deferring a decision in the matter, or, in the manner of the fathers in the Council of Trent, adjourning it to the Greek kalends.
People would give gifts to the emperor during this during the festival of Kalends.