Origins of Christmas

Discussion in 'Feasts, Fasts, and Church Calendar' started by Scottish Knight, Dec 16, 2020.

  1. Scottish Knight

    Scottish Knight Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    498
    Likes Received:
    569
    Country:
    Scotland
    Religion:
    Christian
    https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=1225161257171

    I've always enjoyed celebrating Christmas but assumed that it had its origins in Pagan celebrations which were later Christianised. I'm intrigued by Dr James White's assertion (link provided) that Christian celebrations of the incarnation on 25th December actually predate any record we have of Pagan celebrations on that day. Does anyone know what the oldest records we have on this.matter are?
     
  2. Fr. Brench

    Fr. Brench Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    225
    Likes Received:
    320
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglican (ACNA)
    I don't recall the details, but from what I understand the story is correct. Sol Invictus or whatever those December pagan feasts are actually post-date the celebration Christmas. The old guard of Pagan Rome was trying to counteract the growing Christian movement.

    There are some citation here that might shed light on the details: https://ses.edu/how-do-we-know-christmas-is-not-pagan/
     
    Thomas Didymus and Rexlion like this.
  3. Mockingbird

    Mockingbird Member

    Posts:
    65
    Likes Received:
    25
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Anglican
    The traditional Roman date for the Spring equinox was March 25th. It became Christian tradition that the world was created on this day, and that Jesus was crucified on this day. Symmetry meant that he was conceived on the same day, March 25th. This places his birth on December 25th if one counts the period of human gestation as 9 Roman months.
     
  4. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Yule though, and winter solstice celebrations predate Roman and Christian pagan rites I should think. Christmas appropriately supplanted, or joined in with, the hope that this joyous pagan festival, celebrated in the darkest month of the year, looking forward to the increasing of the light, the lengthening of days and the hope of spring always had previously marked for the people.

    As to the possibility of Jesus Christ actually being born in December - highly unlikely - if sheperds were abiding in the fields when his birth took place. At that time of the year in Palestine their sheep would presumably been in the fold, and shepherds would be where their sheep were, not sitting on sheepless hilsides in freezing dead of night.
    .
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
  5. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,419
    Likes Received:
    1,759
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    Average low temperature in Jerusalem during late December is the low 40s F. (6 C.). It may have been a cold spell... or a warm spell... but that's the average. Sheep wear wool insulation; not sure what the shepherds might have been wearing. (Bethlehem is 140 km farther north, but about 400m lower elevation... probably a wash on temp difference.)
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2021
  6. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Interesting average temperature statistics, (nightime would have been considerably colder than daytime though), but what were sheepfolds used for and what times of the year were they usually used, plus when was lambing season and did it have to take place 'in the fields'? Clearly "Shepherds abiding in the fields at night" Luke 2:8, is information thoughtfully provided to give a clue to the season of the year being identified, otherwise why include it specifically rather than leave it to be assumed by the reader due to the context of angels appearing to shepherds. In any case there can be no certainty whatever of the actual date of the birth of Christ, not the day or the month or even (within 4 or 5 or so), of even the year. The 25 Dec. is just a convenient date to celebrate 'Light in our Darkness', in the northern hemisphere. It doesn't work so well in Australia. :laugh:
    .
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2021
  7. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,419
    Likes Received:
    1,759
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglican Christian
    I did say, average low (as in overnight) temperature, btw.

    It could have been any day of the year whatsoever, though. I have no reason to say yea or nay about Dec. 25.
     
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    I hadn't noticed it was an average overnight low. :blush: Whoops.

    If The Queen of England can have two birthdays, one official and her real one, why not Jesus. It's just that no one knows when his real one was, that's all.
    .
     
  9. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    491
    Likes Received:
    468
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    QE2 has a lot more than just two birthdays. In my country alone she's got 3 different official dates depending on what state you're in.

    But I completely agree with your point - it doesn't much matter what day we choose to celebrate Jesus's birth (although it being on the correct day might feel nice). Regardless of the date having or not having some correlation with a historical Roman Pagan festival - it's not a pagan festival so it's not like God actually needs the stars to align and the fabric to the spirit world to thin so God can increase His power level and cast more magic spells during Christmastime. The event serves a purpose in the Church season, the day does not.
     
    Tiffy and Rexlion like this.
  10. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,645
    Likes Received:
    1,206
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Are you talking 'geographical state' or number of tinnies so far cobber? :cheers::laugh:
    .
     
  11. PDL

    PDL Well-Known Member Anglican

    Posts:
    965
    Likes Received:
    745
    Country:
    United Kingdom
    Religion:
    Church of England
    I honestly do not know why this discussion keeps cropping up. It is a mystery to me.

    We do not know on what date Our Lord was born. We also seem unable to pin down why 25th December was really chosen as the date for the feast of his nativity.

    I think what is really important is Our Lord's Incarnation and the fact we do celebrate his birth. The date on which we do that does not, I firmly believe, matter.

    What I would really like is to see Christians recapturing Christmas and focusing on its real meaning rather than the huge festival of gluttony it has become in the wealthier parts of the world.
     
    ZachT, Tiffy and Rexlion like this.
  12. Silvan

    Silvan Active Member

    Posts:
    362
    Likes Received:
    66
    Country:
    South Germany
    Religion:
    Catholic
    I think, whatever the origin, the winter solstice surely has a part in it.
    And I do not see any problem with that.

    The winter solstice is a part of nature and of the universe.
    And if God has created all this, then we can also honour that date as Jesus' birthday - no matter, when it was.
     
    Tiffy likes this.