Skip to content
Sunday Assembly logo

Assembling In The Deep Mid-Winter

Winter, as the lovely folk of Westeros keep on telling us, is coming and with it a ton of celebrations, festivals and parties are planned across the Sunday Assembly network. With these celebrations comes a ton of debate because when you build radically inclusive secular communities there are a ton of opinions.

Should a secular congregation have any Christmas celebrations? Should you have a Winter Solstice celebration instead? Should you have rituals at all? Are they all pointless pre-scientific ceremonies? Can we sing Last Christmas by Wham?

I must admit I really love Christmas and first thought of starting a non-religious congregation of some type when I was at a Christmas Carol concert. However, not everyone in Sunday Assembly London is as pro-Crimbo as I am so when we do Yule Rock we only do non-religious songs Christmas songs – we’re talking Slade, Wizzard, Wham and Shane McGowan and Kirsty MacColl.

Yule is a handy word as doesn’t have a Christian origin (a quick wikipedia check tells me):

“The earliest references to Yule are by way of indigenous Germanic month names Ærra Jéola (Before Yule) or Jiuli and Æftera Jéola (After Yule). Scholars have connected the celebration to the Wild Hunt, the god Odin and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Modranicht.”

>We did contemplate Modranicht Rock but could not think of an appropriate laboured pun.

I think building rituals on top of established rituals makes perfect sense like the way that Christians built churches on top of temples and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was originally Sancta Sophia. That’s why if I was in the US I would have a Superbowl Sunday Assembly at the drop of the hat.

Moreover ritual is an important aspect of life – not some pre-scientific mumbo-jumbo – when people leave college there is a graduation ceremony, when they love someone there is (sometimes) a wedding, when you die there is a funeral (if you want). I think that to lose rituals would be the same mistake that secular folk made when they gave up gave up singing together, congregations and contemplative practice.

With all of that out the way check out all the celebrating and winter holidays that are being lined up across our wonderful network.

Sunday Assembly Chapel Hill
Winter Solstice Celebration
Arts Center, 300-G East Main St, Carrboro, NC
13th December at 10.30am

Sunday Assembly London
Yule Rock
Union Chapel, Islington
17th December 8pm

Sunday Assembly Silicon Valley
Winter Solstice
75 S 11th Street, San Jose CA 95112
19th December at 6:00pm to 10:00pm

Sunday Assembly New York
Secular Solstice
New York Society For Ethical Culture, 2 West 64th Street
19th December at 5.30pm

Sunday Assembly Los Angeles
Brighter than Today: A Secular Solstice
817 Vine Street Hollywood, CA 90038
Saturday, Dec 19th, 7pm-10pm

Sunday Assembly Olympia
Winter Solstice Celebration
Abigail Stuart House, 1002 Washington St SE, Olympia
20th December at 12pm

Sunday Assembly San Diego
Secular Winter Solstice Celebration
San Diego Women’s Club
20th December at 4pm

Sunday Assembly Brighton
Yuletide Special – Feasts
St Andrews Church, Waterloo Street
20th December at 11 am

Sunday Assembly Charlotte
Winter Solstice Celebration
Charlotte Friends Meeting Hall – 570 Rocky River Rd, Charlotte, NC 28213
20th December at 6pm

Sunday Assembly Reading
Winter Special
Rising Sun Arts Centre
27th December at 6pm

After Yule Rock and our Sunday Assembly on Sunday 20th, I’ll be heading north to Scotland, the land of my grandmothers’, for a week of family fun. Armies of nieces and nephews will be leaping and climbing all over each other while various aunts, uncles, brothers-in-law, sisters and one grandfather push the boundaries of good cheer.

I hope that you are able to find the celebration that you need in the darkest month of the year for it is often in the darkness that we get closer to the light.

Sanderson x