Friday, December 24, 2021

Merry Christmas to All!

It's sort of an 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 wanting similarity 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.  Perhaps the most widely quoted line associated with the birth of Jesus is Luke 2:14 with the angels saying, "Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men."  There are dozens of translations into English and that one doesn't seem to be the most common, it just seems to be popular (I count it in 4 out of 60 at that link so that's approximate).

Furthermore, the nativity display we see setup wasn't at his birth; it was when Jesus was closer to two years old, not lying in the manger on the night he was born.

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.  Reread the last line of that quote just above: it doesn't matter.  

While going through my mom's things after she passed away back in '13, we found this picture that I still get a smile out of.  This is my big brother (on the right) and me visiting Santa.  He looks a bit more skeptical than me, but he is my older (and wiser) brother.  I have no idea what I was thinking.  While I'm not sure of the date, my best guess is it would have been around 1960, plus or minus a year or two.  If it was Christmas of 1960, I would have been six.  

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. Sig
    First off. Many thanks to you for a blog I visit daily. It is always entertaining and hugely informative.

    Secondly I wish you and yours a most blessed Christmas and hopes for the best New Year yet. Despite all the weirdness in the world there is still a lot to be thankful for.

  2. Merry Christmas from The Queen Of The World and me, Graybeard. He was born to be the redeemer of all of us, that's for sure.

  3. Ms. Barnhardt has a post on what the "heavenly host" said:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all.

  4. Yes, Jesus was born on Dec 25! Dr Marshall proves Dec 25 birth of Christ

    The Catholic Church has taught that Jesus Christ was born on Christmas. Dr Taylor Marshall answers 3 objections to Dec 25 and proves the late December birth of Jesus Christ using Saint Luke's Gospel.

  5. Merry Christmas SIG.
    I have no dog in the race, but one of the objections to a late December date are the shepherds.
    However, Afred Edersheim points out that the shepherds may have been watching the Temple Flock, and as such, they had the responsibility of inspecting the Lamb of God. Works for me regardless of date.

  6. Merry Christmas, SiG!

    The date doesn't matter; the event does!

  7. Another blogger that I read, Anglican Curmudgeon, did an outstanding analysis of when our Lord was born based on a great deal of historical evidence from sources outside the Bible. The Anglican Curmudgeon, Allan S. Haley, is a lawyer that used to practice Canon Law in the Episcopal/Anglican Communion as well as practicing secular law. In a number of posts, he offered evidence that Jesus Christ was born in May or June of 2 B.C. by our current reconning of the calendar. As previously stated, the fact that the actual date was left out of the Bible shows that the act and not the date is most important. These were the posts from his redux of this in December of 2012:

    Christmas Redux: Dating Herod's Death
    Ancient Evidence for the Date of the Nativity
    Look What Happened on Dec. 24 in 2 B.C.
    Further Considerations on the Holy Family Chronology

    1. To add to the collection of links, I received a couple of interesting ones in the email, too.

      These are specifically about the star.