In ancient Rome there were many celebrations to honor the different gods of their pantheon.  One in particular has seemed to capture the imagination of contemporary people more then the rest Bacchanalia.  Traditionally a three day event it starts on March 16th and people do continue to celebrate to this day but more as a resurgence of the ideas then to venerate one of the Roman gods, Bacchus.

Originally this celebration was attained by only women though later men were allowed to go as well.  Bacchus was the god of wine and inspired madness.  As such this proved to be a very popular celebration and has been seen in today’s time as a reason for great excesses in many things, drink, food, revelry and of course the most famous orgies.  From what I know of today’s religions all of these are contrary to their belief system and help to demonstrate, in their view, the sinfulness of the Roman society.  Even in the time of Rome the gatherings were seen as a threat and were forbidden by the Senate.  It is believed that many illegal acts where committed during them; murder plots were conceived and even treason.  Some also believe the reason for the outlawing were do to the fact that women held powerful positions within the group, as well as slaves and poor held station, against the normal functioning of the society.

The beliefs in the level of revelry that occurred during the Bacchanalia has caused the name to be used in many different settings today.  It is used to convey the idea that a group has indulged to such excess that the indulging was all that mattered.  In addition it is used by restaurants to convey the level of excellence that they believe they have achieved.

Links:

Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacchanalia

General

http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/dionysusmyth/g/Bacchanalia.htm

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