Freethought Almanac

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December 17: Saturnalia and Christmas

It was on this date, December 17, that the ancient Roman version of the universal midwinter nature festival which they called Saturnalia began. The week-long festival was named in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of the sowing of the harvest, and in its earliest forms included a death ritual, commemorating winter. The holiday was one of many that Roman slaves enjoyed throughout the year – demonstrating that pagan slaves were treated far better than Christian serfs – and one eagerly anticipated because, for a day, slaves were waited on by their masters.

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Originally published December 2003 by Ronald Bruce Meyer.

Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.


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October 7: Religion and Cornell University

Cornell University Founded (1865) It was on this date, October 7, 1865, that US businessman Ezra Cornell, and respected scholar Andrew Dickson White, chartered and founded the Ivy League University in Ithaca, New York, known as Cornell. "Uncle Ezra," as he is affectionately known on campus, had a vision: "I would found an institution where […]



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