Thursday, December 04, 2008

Was December 25th Christmas?

Another myth de-mythologized.

Many Christians think that Christians celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25th because the church fathers appropriated the date of a pagan festival. Almost no one minds, except for a few groups on the fringes of American Evangelicalism, who seem to think that this makes Christmas itself a pagan festival. But it is perhaps interesting to know that the choice of December 25th is the result of attempts among the earliest Christians to figure out the date of Jesus’ birth based on calendrical calculations that had nothing to do with pagan festivals.

Rather, the pagan festival of the “Birth of the Unconquered Son” instituted by the Roman Emperor Aurelian on 25 December 274, was almost certainly an attempt to create a pagan alternative to a date that was already of some significance to Roman Christians. Thus the “pagan origins of Christmas” is a myth without historical substance. ...

Heh. That was about 50 years before Rome went officially Christian.

HT: Happy Catholic

10 comments:

capper said...

Celtic mythology celebrated midwinter solstice in late December (usually between Dec. 20 and Dec. 26).

This celebration predated the birth of Christ by only a couple thousand years.

The time you refer to is about the time that they tried to conquer and assimilate the Celts.

John Foust said...

Shh! Capper! It's important for him to reinforce his Catholic teachings!

Next thing you know, you'll be saying that it's natural that societies would create a mid-winter festival connected to the winter solstice.

PaulNoonan said...

It's The Winter Solstice. Duh.

Dad29 said...

Yes, Paul. We all know that the solstice occurs around 12/25.

Are you telling us that it cannot also be Christmas? That the day is reserved for Solstice Only?

Amy said...

Are you telling us that it cannot also be Christmas? That the day is reserved for Solstice Only?

Yes, Dad, lest you be "reinforcing your Catholic teachings!" Don't you know we're just supposed to go away, so that Capper, John and Paul can move on to blaming something ELSE for their unhappiness in life?

They, of course, also miss that the point of this too is to knock out the silly nonsense practices by some Christians who don't celebrate Christmas because of it's "pagan" roots. That it coincides with solstice is a coincidence...

TerryN said...

The date and any other coincidental celebrations of lore are moot. It's what you celebrate that has meaning.

Damn those Christians for taking one day out of the calendar to wish for peace on earth and goodwill towards men.

PaulNoonan said...

It's more possible that Christmas was placed on the Winter Solstice because of pre-existing celebrations, or just because the shortest day of the year is neat.

You explanation fails the Razor.

Dad29 said...

"...fails the razor."

Two possible responses: Who cares? (which is apropos, insofar as Occam's razor is distinctly un-Catholic despite the fact that Occam was a Catholic)...

or: It's entirely possible that those who fixed the date DID know something; after all, they were virtual contemporaries...as opposed to the Intellectualoids who simply declare, with no foundation, that the date is some sort of mask for pagan rites.

Personally, I'll go with #2, and not really give a rotten damn about your un-substantiated proposal.

capper said...

Amy-

Who said we're unhappy? You're the one going around being snarky and hateful. We just pointed out the flaw in the argument Dad29 presented.

If he or you choose to deny that this is a logical, plausible explanation, well, then, you're not using the brains God gave you.

Joe of St. Thérèse said...

Thinks, if you have the Mother of your Lord Jesus with you, and you wanted to get to know him, wouldn't you want to know when he was born?...