Art, Thoughts, Words and Ramblings

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The one with the Christmas Explanation


So often lately, you hear people saying that there is a ‘war on Christmas’ – or that people are trying to lessen the importance of the Christian holiday season.  What a lot of people don’t understand is that the Holiday season itself – is a combination of multiple pagan celebrations and traditions that were co-opted by the early Catholic/Christian church in order to convert pagan believers to the Christian faith.

In my opinion, it’s truly important for people to understand what it is that they’re celebrating, in order to fully be able to say there are many different beliefs that celebrate during this season – and none of them are ‘right’, none of them are ‘wrong’ – they just are.  And people have as much of a right to celebrate what they believe as you have to celebrate what you believe.

So, let’s start off – why do we celebrate Christmas in December?

Christmas was not an official ‘celebration’ until after 350AD (nearly 350 years after the birth of Christ and 325ish years after his death)   During this time period, there were a number of pagan festivals that were also celebrated around the Winter Solstice.  These festivals (such as Saturnalia, Juvenailia, and Mithra) were celebrated to recognize that days were starting to grow longer.

There is no definite date as to when Jesus was born, however, scholars have indicated that it is most likely in April due to the fact that Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem to register for the census and pay their taxes.  Additionally, given other clues from documentation within the Bible, the likelihood that the birth was in December (or near the Solstice since December didn’t exist) was minimal.

During the growth of the Christian church after the death of Jesus,  Pope Julius I, noted that the pagan celebrations were popular among the people who were not yet Christians.   In order to co-opt the popularity of those celebrations – he declared that December 25th would be a celebration to honor the birth of Christ.    Therefore, days that were already used to celebrate the lengthening of the days after the winter solstice as well as honoring old gods and belief systems were not originally Christian.

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