Monday, December 23, 2019

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah

Along with being the Eve of Christmas Eve, today is the second day of Hanukkah.  Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or or whatever you choose to celebrate.  You can change the words, but you can't change my warmest wishes for everything good for you and those you cherish.

I always say that 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.  It's not news to this bunch that Jesus was probably born in the spring or fall rather than in the dead of winter, nor is it news that the December 25th date probably 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 scene we call the nativity is a conglomeration of bits and pieces mostly from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, 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 with Jesus in a manger; it was when Jesus was old enough to be called a child.  The scene was at his parents' home and not at an inn. 

A friend sent me this contribution on the question of the exact date.
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 very.  We use a different calendar today than was used in those days, and I'm not sure today's December 25th is the same day as that era's December 25th.  To paraphrase that previous quote, not that it matters. 

While going through my mom's things after she passed away six years ago, we found this picture.  This is my brother (on the right) and me visiting Santa.  He looks a bit more skeptical than me, but he is my older brother.  While I'm not sure of the date, my guess is it would have been around 1960, plus or minus a year or two. 


  1. I won't get into the date of Christmas but I LOVE your expression "I always think." I use it a lot and must include it in my shallow excuse for a mind blog.

    Christus Natus Est.

  2. As to the actual date of The Christ's birth, a gentleman who blogs as the Anglican Curmudgeon did a multiple post analysis of the date in December 2012. It was very thurough and the conclusion was May or June 2 B.C. with the Magi visiting in December of that year.

  3. Merry Christmas Mr. and Mrs. Sig!

  4. Merry Christmas and best wishes of the season to all. It turns out
    that Bethlehem was the center of some regional livestock trade, so
    shepherds could well have been minding the flock at any given time.

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  6. Now that it is the day that we celebrate the Nativity of Jesus, Merry Christmas to you SiG and all of the others that haunt your blog!