Well, Christmas is almost upon us, and I haven’t posted for a couple of months. Sheesh.
I like to post once a week. Not only does it keep me moving and thinking, but for my few dedicated readers you have something regular coming your way. In the past two months, this has not been the case. Covid, funerals, lots of moving pieces in my life, and the holidays themselves have kept me from dedicating any time to this platform.
So as we enter into this holiest of holy seasons (the final weeks of the regular NFL season), let us also remember that there is a reason for the season. That reason is axial tilt.
Because of axial tilt, yesterday (Dec 21, 2021) was the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
In agrarian societies, closely tied to the cycle of life, death, and re-birth, these cycles became the ground basis for their developing religions. The sun “dies” and then is “reborn” as it begins crawling it’s way back up high in the sky starting yesterday. The pagans developed an entire mythology around this phenomenon. And when I say pagan, I mean peoples all over the earth at a time when there was no internet. They all had some version of religion that tied itself to the life cycle of the sun and agriculture.
The Romans worshipped their god Saturn during this season, with the exact date moving around a bit. But for the brevity of this article, things eventually settled on Dec 25th. Just in time for a new religion that was making the rounds. That new religion pulled the equivalent of two children on the playground fighting over who’s dad did the cool thing. The difference was this new religion wasn’t throwing insults, it was throwing people in torture prisons.
This new religion also pulled the equivalent of “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Simultaneously while pretending that they and only they had the right answer for everything, they were busy co-opting all sorts of other religious traditions, including (and this is where the wording is just hilarious), they told people that their son was born on Dec 25th. “Duh”, all the pagans said in unison. “We told YOU the sun is born on Dec 25th.” “Die, heathen” was the response.
And then this new religion stole nearly everything else about the holiday including yule logs, tree decorating (which is explicitly forbidden in their supposed rule book), caroling, gift giving, and yes, renaming Dec 25th something related to the name of their new god. It isn’t Saturnalia any more, it’s…. well, something they stole anyway.
But it’s a beautiful time of year. And nothing beats the serenity and peace of sitting in the country during a winter day. So enjoy the season however you celebrate.
The Spartan Atheist