The Purge is a pretty terrifying concept: one night a year where all crime is legal, where murder, torture, rape and theft are all allowed as a form of societal safety valve.

James DeMonaco's film franchise has taken this theme and run with it across three films (a fourth is in the works) and recently announced that a TV series is to follow, enthralling and (let's face it) frightening the life out of viewers all over the world.

What might come as a surprise to many of those fans, however, is that the concept of the purge is not as far from reality as some might hope.

Credit: Universal Pictures

Though the film series is set in a dystopian future America, the roots of the idea go back into the murky midsts of European history, at least if film website Looper is to be believed.

They've gone back into the annals of pre-Roman pagan lore and found a very similar, real life equivalent of the purge, which took place over a week in ancient Europe.

What's more, it took place over Christmas too. If that's not something to put you off your turkey and sprouts, then we don't know what is.

romans

Historial re-enactors. Not actual ancent Romans, sorry. Credit: PA

Of course, this all happened before Christianity, of course, but as any good geek knows, the festive period was the festive period long before Jesus had anything to do with it. Back then, it was called Saturnalia and took place at the same time of the year, around the Winter Solstice.

The pagans allowed the week over the solstice, roughly corresponding to 17th to 25th of December, to be taken as a holiday from the rules: people would get tanked up, fight and occasionally kill each other. If you've ever spent Christmas in Rochdale, this might not feel so alien to you.

the purge

Credit: Universal Pictures

We'll let Looper take over: "DeMonaco's films draw multiple parallels with the ancient holiday's customs, one of which involved choosing a victim to be pushed to the brink of overindulgence."

"The unlucky person would be fed like a King or Queen during the day and offered more physical pleasures in the evening, and at the festival's conclusion they would be slaughtered by the authorities, who believed that in doing so they were destroying the forces of darkness and greed."

Throw in the Queen's Speech and an argument with your mum about who has to do the washing up and that sounds like one or two of our more rowdy family Christmases, actually.

Source: Looper

Claire Reid

Claire Reid is a journalist at LADbible. Claire graduated from Liverpool John Moores University with a BA in journalism. She’s previously worked at Trinity Mirror. Since joining LADbible, Claire has worked on pieces for the UOKM8? mental health campaign, the Yemen crisis, life in the Calais Jungle as well as a profile of a man who is turning himself into a cyborg.

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