December 17 in freethought history…

saturnaliaDecember 17, 497 BCE  – The Temple to Saturn is dedicated in the Roman Forum. Annual observances of this dedication became the Roman mid-winter festival of Saturnalia, marked by candles, singing, gift-giving and general revelry. Saturnalia was gradually expanded, until by the time of the late Roman Empire it extended to December 25. Saturnalia and its trappings continued even after the Empire came under Christian rule, and many of its traditions can still be found in 21st-century Christmas.

December 17, 1538 – Pope Paul III excommunications Henry VIII of England. Although it separated the Anglicans from the Roman Catholics, England still hasn’t separated church from state.

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