Why December 25th?

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Barnabas H., Dec 27, 2001.

  1. Barnabas H.

    Barnabas H.
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    Care to comment on why was it decided on December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus? Way back, about 50 plus years ago, I read that since the pagan holiday fell on the winter solstice (December 21st and in some year on 22nd), the church wanting to do away with the observation and wanting to make it a Christian holiday, they added 3 days to it as a representative of Jesus being in the grave for three days & three nights. That is how the birth of Jesus was designated for observance on December 25th. Anyone can substantiate that or knows the details associated with this explanation? [​IMG]
     
  2. HankD

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    The 25th of December is the first day in which the day becomes longer after the winter solstice. Hence the re-birth of the sun and the Pagan Mithras celebration which was adopted by the church (Presumably, keeping the festivities but switching from the sun to the birth of Christ) way back when.

    After the Edict of Milan by Constantine many Pagan symbols and practices were absorbed into Christianity.

    You might try "The Two Babylons" for more information.

    HankD
     
  3. Chris Temple

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    Kerby Anderson at www.probe.org says this:

    *******************
    Christmas History
    December 18, 1998
    With Christmas just a week away, I thought I would spend a minute talking about the origin of Christmas. The early church marked the birth of Christ at different times, including January 6. By the fourth century the date selected was December 25, in part to divert attention from the celebration of the pagan holidays of Saturnalia and Kalends.

    Saturnalia was a weeklong religious feast which began on December 17 and continued through the winter solstice. Candles were given as gifts, as were clay images or charms, meant to encourage the return of the sun's power after the winter solstice.

    Like our modern Christmas celebrations, it involved parties and merry-making. The Roman writer Lucian said Saturnalia involved "drinking and being drunk, noise and games, appointing of kings and slaves and clapping of tremulous hands."

    Kalends occurred on January 1. On this day, the new Roman consuls were sworn and houses were decorated with evergreens and lights, and celebrations also took place.

    And since the time of the Romans, Christmas has picked up many traditions--a great many of them pagan in origin. For example, hanging mistletoe. Mistletoe was sacred to the Druids. During the winter solstice, they would go out and cut the most potent mistletoe with a golden knife, and then they would sacrifice a white ox.

    By the 17th century, the Puritans were so concerned over the weaving of secular with religious traditions that they proposed doing away with the holiday. When Oliver Cromwell took power, he banned the public celebration of Christmas in England from 1652 to 1660, but the ban proved too unpopular.

    So today we are left with a holiday that's part-Christian, part-pagan. And perhaps that's the best argument for making sure that we know the reason for the season. Christmas shouldn't just be about parties or Santa Claus; it should be about the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.

    I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

    © 1998 Probe Ministries International

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Kerby Anderson is the president of Probe Ministries International. He received his B.S. from Oregon State University, M.F.S. from Yale University, and M.A. from Georgetown University. He is the author of several books, including Genetic Engineering, Origin Science, Living Ethically in the 90s, Signs of Warning, Signs of Hope, and Moral Dilemmas.
    He is a nationally syndicated columnist whose editorials have appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Miami Herald, the San Jose Mercury, and the Houston Post.

    He is the host of "Probe," and frequently serves as guest host on "Point of View" (USA Radio Network) and "Open Line" (Moody Broadcasting Network). He can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].
     
  4. Helen

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    I'll try this one more time here [​IMG]
    http://www.ldolphin.org/birth.html -- The Christmas Star

    There is some real evidence that Dec. 25 may have been the day the magoi (who were NOT 'three wise men' -- it is just that there were three gifts!) visited the young child.

    Barry recently received a letter asking him about the long-time planetarium presentations regarding this and here is the reply he sent to the questioner:

    It was back in the 1960's that the Morrison Planetarium was presenting this same scenario which is so popular today, and which Martin's book formalized. I believe this is basically the same program as is still being presented. As a member of the Astronomical Society of South Australia, I was asked, in the mid-1960's, to present the Christmas Star scenario as a complete lecture/slide combination. All told, over 200 slides were involved in a 45 minute presentation. I followed the aforementioned official astronomical line for many years, until the late 1980's, when additional information came my way. This information caused me to further examine the eclipse sequence upon which Herod's death was predicated, along with the date of the Jewish feast celebrating that death, as well as the dates assigned to Jesus' birth by early Christian writers. As a result of this investigation, it became apparent that only one eclipse could be the correct one. It was not the commonly accepted eclipse. As a result of that, the approximate time of Christ's birth could be more surely established.

    When this was done, it became apparent that the series of events proposed in the standard model were not the series of events actually associated with Christ's birth. Indeed, those that were associated with Christ's birth turned out to be more spectacular than those presented by the planetariums. I was alerted to this somewhat earlier due to a note passed among astronomers back in the early-to-mid eighties, in which the astronomical events from about 10 BC to about 1 AD were discussed. The comment was made that this other scenario was far more impressive than the one which had become standard for the planetarium programs.
     
  5. Helen

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    As an extra note -- Dec. 22 is the first day which becomes longer, I think.

    And the fact that pagans also celebrated the winter solstice and that this coincides with something else (the visit of the magoi) does not mean that Christmas is pagan. Christmas is pagan only if you allow it to be.

    If we shunned every symbol taken over by paganism in one way or another, we would be avoiding all circles, triangles, stars, etc. etc.

    This is not to deny what was done by the Catholic church, only to add more to it in the way of history and thought.
     
  6. Barnabas H.

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    Thanks for your informative posts HankD, Chris, and Helen. Looked at the link provided and they made a good reading and research. But I am particularly interested to know, if anybody come across with the 3 days difference between the pagan holiday, which was culminated on the winter solstice, and the December 25th date derived to celebrate the birth of Christ. Any input on that line? [​IMG]

    I must have one of those senior moments; because I remember vividly the article I read about this but can't recall exact data. :(
     
  7. DocCas

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    WHAT ABOUT DECEMBER 25th? COULD JESUS HAVE BEEN BORN ON "CHRISTMAS" DAY?
    DON'T JUST S**** IT, BUT FIRST, THINK ABOUT IT.

    Today it is popular for preachers and teachers to dispel the "myths" of Christmas. It makes for great sensationalism but not for great reason or accuracy. There are several aspects of the traditional Christmas story that are under fire. While no one can positively set the exact time and scene of the first Christmas there is no biblical necessity for s****ping the biggest majority of our traditional understanding of these events.

    I. Jesus could easily have been born on December 25.

    The traditional date of December 25 for Christmas may well be in the proper time frame even if it is not perfectly correct. It has been the date commemorated for almost 1800 years.

    Edersheim wrote, "There is no adequate reason for questioning the historical accuracy of this date. The objections generally made rest on grounds which seem to me historically untenable."

    "The subject has been fully discussed in an article by Cassel in Herzog's Real. Enc. xvii. pp.588-594. But a curious piece of evidence comes to us from a Jewish source. In the addition to the Megillath Taanith (ed. Warsh. p. 20) the 9th Tebheth is marked as a fast day, and it is added, but the reason for this addition is not stated. Now, Jewish chronologists have fixed on that day as that of Christ's birth, and it is remarkable that, between the years of 500 and 816 A.D. the 25th December fell no less than twelve times on the 9th Tebheth. If the 9th Tebheth, 25th December, was regarded as the birthday of Christ we can understand the concealment about it."

    II. The shepherds did stay in the fields in December.

    "Equally so was the belief that He (the birth of Messiah) was to be revealed from Migdal Eder, the 'tower of the flock.' This Migdal Eder was not the watch-tower for the ordinary flocks which pastured on the barren sheep ground beyond Bethlehem, but lay close to the town, on the road to Jerusalem. A passage in the Mishnah leads to the conclusion that the flocks, which pastured there, were destined for the temple-sacrifices, and, accordingly, that the shepherds, who watched over them, were not ordinary shepherds. The latter were under the ban of Rabbinism on account of their necessary isolation from religious ordinances, and their manner of life which rendered strict legal observance unlikely, if not impossible. The same Mishnic passage also leads us to infer that these flocks lay out all the year round, since they are spoken of as in the fields thirty days before the Passover--that is in the month of February when in Palestine the average rainfall is nearly greatest." Edersheim

    III. The wise men came while Jesus was still an infant.

    There are several time landmarks in the gospels by which we can ascertain the time of the wise men's visit to the infant Christ.

    1. The taxing of the world by Caesar Augustus while Cyrenius was governor of Syria.

    2. The death of Herod the Great.

    3. The fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar.

    4. Jesus's age at the beginning of his public ministry.

    Any time setting for the visit of the magi must be consistent with all four of these dates.

    Caesar Augustus reigned from 31 BC until 14 A.D. Cyrenius was governor of Syria in 8 BC and again in 7 AD. Augustus conducted censuses three times in Italy: 28 BC. 8 BC. and 14 AD. He taxed Gaul in 27 BC. Egypt was taxed every 14 years starting in 20 BC.

    While we have no direct local records of such taxing in Palestine there is no reason not to believe that Caesar ordered the census and taxation of Palestine during the first governorship of Cyrenius. This helps to validate the general history of the account but is not specific enough to help us in the actual time placement of events.

    Luke 3:1 tells us that John began his ministry in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar. The same chapter v. 23 says that Jesus was baptized and began his public ministry when he "began to be about thirty years old." Tiberius came to the royal purple in 14 A.D. Working forward, his fifteenth year (counting the year of ascendancy as a year) would be A.D. 27. Subtracting the 30 years of Jesus's age brings us to 4 BC. Jesus must have been born between August of 5 BC and April of 4 BC (the month in which Herod died.) Historically we know that Herod left Jerusalem a few months before he died so that February of 4 BC is the latest that the wise men could have found him in Jerusalem. Even if Jesus was born in late August of 5 BC he could not have been more than five months old when worshiped by the wise men.

    In Luke 1:5 we see additional evidence for the December 25th date for Christ's birth.

    John the Baptist's father was said to serve in the Temple and was of the course of Abia, one of the twenty-four classes or courses of priests according to 1 Chron 24.

    Each course served for one week, twice a year. During the special sabbaths all of the courses served.

    It was while he was serving in the Temple that the announcement of the birth of John was made to him. Elizabeth conceived after his course of duty in the Temple.

    John was six months older then the Lord.

    When did the course of Abiah serve? According to the Misna, from the third week to the fourth week of September. So, if John was conceived in late September, he would have been born 9 months later, in late June. If Christ was six months younger, He would have been born in late December!

    One other very important point. The Eastern and Western branches of the Catholic Church have traditionally fought over the date of Easter, and Christmas. But the date of Christmas was much closer. The Western Church said December 25 and the Eastern Church said January 6. That is a difference of only 13 days. "Tradition" is not always wrong. [​IMG]

    Think About It!

    [ December 27, 2001: Message edited by: Thomas Cassidy ]
     
  8. HankD

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    Dear Helen,

    I was told and I don't know for sure but while the sun sets later on the 22, 23, and 24th of December, the sun rises later so that the sum effect is December the 25th when the days actually become longer.

    HankD
     
  9. Helen

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    Thomas, one of the clues to the date of the birth of our Lord is not that shepherds were watching their flocks by night, which they may have done year round, but that they were IN THE FIELDS. This did not happen except at lambing season(s). The pens were much too crowded for the babies to survive being trampled. Being out in the fields was necessary for lambing. Thus, the birth of the Christ child must have been in spring or fall, the two lambing seasons.

    Please read Barry's article. He discusses the references for everything else in rather good detail.
     
  10. DocCas

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Helen:
    Thomas, one of the clues to the date of the birth of our Lord is not that shepherds were watching their flocks by night, which they may have done year round, but that they were IN THE FIELDS. This did not happen except at lambing season(s).<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>This is an all too often stated misconception. The lambs being raised for Temple sacrifice were tended in the field all year around to insure they did not injure themselves and thus be "without spot or blemish."
     
  11. Helen

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    Could you reference that please? The most ancient of the Middle East customs that I am aware of penned the animals at night except for lambing seasons. This was part of the meaning about Jesus being the gate. I would be interested to know about any historical references to the temple sheep being treated differently than that. Thank you!
     
  12. Jamal5000

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Barnabas:
    Care to comment on why was it decided on December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    When Constantine more or less united the State with the Church, it secularized it. When missionaries went out and mass-converted pagans, they had to make them feel at home within the faith; many were just nominal Christians with no real change of heart. The solution at the time was to make the worship of God more accessible to the former pagans by integrating their traditions with the liturgy. Along with replacing pagan hero worship with the verneration of angels and saints came the superimpostion of man-made holidays like Christmas on top of pagan holidays like the winter solstice often celebrated around December 25.

    Please let me know if I can help anymore
    God Bless You [​IMG]
     
  13. mark

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    December 25th was the "birthday" of Mithras, the Roman "eternal sun" god. Mithras was widely worshipped by the Roman army, especially the officers. Putting Christmas on Dec. 25th made it easier for the Romans to shift to Christian traditions. I wish they'd have put Februaury 1st, it would make winter more bearable.
     
  14. Jamal5000

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by mark:
    25th made it easier for the Romans to shift to Christian traditions. I wish they'd have put Februaury 1st, it would make winter more bearable.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Amen, Mark because down here in Carolina, Winter is brutal in February.

    Peace and Love J5000 [​IMG]
     

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