Professor Brian Sherwood, a distinguished theologian from Durham University, has caused controversy in the run-up to the Festival of Sol Invictus, the Unconquered Sun, by claiming that the traditonal date for the sun's birthday of December 25th cannot be correct.
'I don't want to ruin anyone's Sol-day lunch and I respect the fact that this is still basically a Sol-worshipping country,' said Sherwood, defending himself against accusations of heresy from offended adherents of the Sun-Church of England, 'but whichever way you look at it the date is wrong.'
The Cult of Sol Invictus was established by the Roman Emperor Aurelian in the Year 0, from which we derive the modern calendar to make this the year 1836 AA, and spread rapidly across the globe. Since then, the (re)birth of the sun has always been celebrated on this day, though some fundamentalists have always claimed that it should move to the shortest day of the year.
'That's the symbolic argument,' added Sherwood. 'Scientists now believe that the sun does not literally die at the winter solstice at all. Moreover, it is 8,746, 591,306 years old and was 'born' on September 12th of that year, plus or minus six days. So by all means eat yourself sick on December 25th but it's not the right day.'
Other scholars have claimed that the traditional date has nothing at all to do with the Cult of Sol Invictus but was borrowed from the traditional birth date of the founder an obscure cult derived from the Jewish tradition called Christianity. This cult flourished for 250 years before Aurelian but died out under persecution from the adherents of Sol.
'Very litttle is known about Christianity now, but there's no way the date can be right for them either,' added Sherwood. 'Their texts talk about shepherds abiding in the fields at night - in Bethlehem in December when it's freezing cold. I can just see it now - 'Hey Abraham, fancy an abide?' - 'What in this weather, fuck off'. Ooops, no offence.'