Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas to All

It's sort of annual tradition on my part to put up this post, or at least the essence of it, since I revise it pretty much every year.

Borepatch has an interesting article up on why we celebrate Christmas on December 25th.  It might well be true.  It sure has a lot of details that make sense.
Aurelian introduced his cult on December 25, 274 AD and it became really the first Empire-wide holiday.   He succeeded in founding a common belief across the Empire, perhaps succeeded more than even he hoped.  Because the idea stuck: Emperor Constantine didn't just introduce Christianity. It's from him that we get the word Sunday, since he decreed that across the Empire the weekly day of rest would be the day of rest - the dies Solis.
I always say that in the church I go to, it's not news that most people say we have no real idea when Jesus was born and that the December 25th date comes from adapting to the Roman Saturnalia or other pagan holidays; nor would they be shocked if you told them Christmas has more secular than holy traditions associated with it and many things that are totally ingrained in the holiday traditions started out as advertising gimmicks.  There was no little drummer boy when the events we portray as the nativity happened; in fact, the entire scene we call the nativity is a conglomeration of bits and pieces from multiple Gospels, and certainly did not happen within the first couple of days of Jesus' life.  Nobody knows how many magi ("wise men") came to visit the child; we say three because of the three gifts listed, but it could have been almost any number.  Furthermore, it wasn't at his birth; it was when Jesus was closer to two years old.

Churches, like all groups, have personalities, and in the one I attend, it would be remarkable to toss a wadded up paper ball and not hit an engineer, nurse, doctor, or a tech professional.

Years ago. a friend sent me this contribution on the question of the exact date from a place dedicated to answering biblical questions.
The truth is we simply don’t know the exact date of our Savior’s birth. In fact, we don’t even know for sure the year in which He was born. Scholars believe it was somewhere between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C.  One thing is clear: if God felt it was important for us to know the exact date of the Savior’s birth, He certainly would have told us in His Word. The Gospel of Luke gives very specific details about the event, even down to what the baby was wearing – “swaddling clothes”—and where he slept—“in a manger” (Luke 2:12). These details are important because they speak of His nature and character, meek and lowly. But the exact date of His birth has no significance whatsoever, which may be why God chose not to mention it.
I've heard another explanation for why December 25th was chosen.  It's close to the solstice, the longest night of the year - which made it the darkest night of the year in those days. Jesus was the light of the world, and the symbolism of bringing light when things are at their darkest fits perfectly with the story.  If someone came out with a convincing line of evidence that Jesus really was born on December 25th, I'd be surprised... but not terribly shocked.  Again, paraphrasing that previous quote, not that it matters.

Let me wish each and every one of you who stop by here a very Merry Christmas.  Hold close the ones you love.  Spend time with family or friends or both.  Remember the good service members deployed far from home.  If you're Military, LEO, or fire; EMT, Nurse or MD, and are one who must work while the rest of us celebrate, thank you.



  1. The story is not comprehensive in the Gospels and different chroniclers have different takes on it. Taxation took place during the Passover when people were required to go to the temple, which makes it Spring. The wise men were likely astrologers who read signs in the heavens, more than following a particular heavenly apparition. And if they came from Mesopotamia, they likely had an army of soldiers and retainers to protect them on the caravan route, two years later makes sense. And there were no pine trees, no sleighs, no reindeer. Notwithstanding the myth that has grown up around the event, it resonates.

    The fact that it does resonate to a weary world, 2019 years (+/-) years later is testament enough to the spiritual power of Jesus Christ and his life, ministry and message.

  2. The "Anglican Curmudgeon", Allan S. Haley, presented an analysis on the date of Jesus's birth in December 2009 and updated it in December 2010 . Here are the first three articles he published in 2009:

    When Herod Ruled - Resolving the Dates

    Other Evidence for the Date of the Nativity

    The Star of Bethlehem and the Nativity

    Here are the updates that he did in 2010:

    Dating the Nativity: New Considerations

    Using the Bible to Date the Nativity