WHY THE SUNTURN  instead of Christmas?

An Atheist's 
& Agnostic's 
Guide to God


In ancient northern Europe, no one knew why the seasons changed and the days got progressively shorter and colder as the Sun sank lower and lower in the sky, as its daily rising wandered ever further south along the eastern horizon, until finally – hopefully! – it would stop, “TURN”, and begin to head north again. When it finally did, they knew the days would slowly lengthen, eventually getting warmer, bringing back the Spring and Summer and all that goes with them and on which their lives depended. 

That is why the Sunturn was so important to our ancestors They did not understand why it occurred, nor could they be sure that it always would. Supposing it didn’t, and the days went on getting short and colder? When their supplies of food ran out they would starve, if they hadn’t already frozen to death from the cold - or knocked themselves out by bumping into a tree in the perpetual darkness! They must have been fearfully aware of their dependency on the Sunturn, and prayed for its occurrence. When it did, they celebrated and gave thanks.

When Christianity came to northern Europe the bishops realised that there was no way to stop people celebrating the Sunturn  – it was far too important a festival; but they didn’t want the natives (our ancestors) praising and thanking their own gods for it, so they declared it to be Jesus’ birthday and called it “Christmas”.

After more than 1500 years, and playing an integral role in the development of western civilisation, it is time for those of us with a more rational turn of mind to put Christianity completely and explicitly behind us, instead of the mixed attitude that we have shown hitherto, fearful of offending anyone by boldy stating what a lot of nonsense most of it is. The beginning of the new (third) Christian millennium is an ideal time to formally do so. For those who wish to stick to the Christian calendar it is the year 2005; for myself and those who share my sentiments it is year 05 of the post Christian era (pCe). This way we can leave all dates as they are, when necessary followed by bCe, Ce and now pCe.

Notwithstanding their historical and cultural importance, let us leave the myths of primitive middle-eastern religion, with its jealous God, and the Christian gospels - with their miracles and “Son of God” (indeed!), sent to attone for a sin (the desire for knowledge) we should rather be proud of - and return to the example of the more rational, free-thinking Greeks (our fellow Europeans!) and the reality of the Sunturn - not in fear of a fickle god, but in awe and wonder at nature’s works, and with deep appreciation and thankfulness for all we have learned about them.