The accident of history that had Christianity usurp the celebration of Saturnalia is historical fact. Saturnalia, to a then superstitious civilisation, was when the sun returned after the Northern Hemisphere’s winter months of cold, starvation and death, foreshadowing warmer weather with the promise of renewed life. It was a time to celebrate, and the hedonistic revelry of Saturnalia is legendary.
Around the time of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, Christianity began to systematically repress pagan ideas and rituals. But during this process of forced conversion the early Church set out to absorb and appropriate elements of the very religion it was trying to stamp out.
And so the festival of Saturnalia slowly took on the trappings of the newest myth on the block. The hugely popular celebrations, which the Roman people would not willingly have relinquished, gained a new theological meaning by force. At its origins, Christmas was not so much a celebration of the alleged birth-time of the alleged Jesus, as a ploy to win converts through the merging of differing religions.
Thankfully the hedonistic nature of Saturnalia has returned, although the Atheist Foundation of Australia considers the excessiveness of the season more than a little over the top.
We should all be joyous at having survived another year and remember in sadness those who did not. After all, this is the only life we are ever going to have.
It is a time some will gather together with loved ones, mark the occasion by giving presents and relax in a fashion of preference. Others take on board the philosophy that each day is a celebration of life and consider ‘goodwill to all persons’ to be a year-round event.
The President of the AFA, David Nicholls said, “It is well past the time that ChristMyth along with all the other religious myths were not taken so seriously by civilisation. None of them has any universally accepted evidence in support of their extraordinary supernatural claims. They are harming real people and threatening the planet with annihilation. There could be no better time than now to contemplate this.”
Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc
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