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Tuesday, 12 December 2017
Christmas 'IF' its the 25th December?
The time of year for much happiness and celebration
But are we doing right?
I am not talking about the commercialized monster the holiday has become
I want to get back to its roots
The holiday is after all
The Birthday of Jesus Christ
We all now the story of the nativity
The frankincense, gold and myrrh
The three wise men and of course the manger.
But is this story true and if it is did it happen on the 25th of December?
The birth of Christ has to be the most important event in biblical history.
The event has been described for us by Luke and Matthew
The gospels they gave us state that the place of birth was indeed Bethlehem and that Mary gave birth to Jesus and placed him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn"
Matthew also writes that at this time Magi (the wisemen) came from the east and visited with King Herod they asked him where they would find the King of the Jews.
They asked this because they had seen his star.
He also writes about the warning given to Joseph in which the angel warns them to flee as Herod intends to kill them.
Luke tells a similar story with a focus on some different plot points.
However Brent Landau, a religious studies scholar at the University of Texas at Austin said
"My overall take on this, which would be the opinion of most other biblical scholars as well, is that there is very little in the Christmas story of the Gospels that is historically reliable,"
Others argue that biblical scholars hold Jesus' birth story to an impossible historical standard, and since Jesus was a minor historical figure born in a Roman backwater, it's impressive that any evidence for his life and death exists at all.
So what about the date, did this all happen in December?
Well some researchers claim that this date is wrong they point to June 17th being the true date.
Australian astronomer Dave Reneke used computer software to chart the exact positions of all celestial bodies and map the night sky as it would have appeared over the Holy Land more than 2,000 years ago.
His research confirmed that a bright star did appear over Bethlehem 2,000 years ago
If this star was the one that coincides with the birth of Christ - it appeared on June 17, and not December 25.
So how did we take an event that occurred in the summer and move it to the depths of winter?
Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was first recorded in the year 336,
This was the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine the first Christian Roman Emperor.
Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December a few years later.
But there are other theories
Early Christian tradition speaks of a day called the annunciation this is when Mary told she was carrying a child this is said to have happened on March 25th so with some basic math 9 months on gives us the 25th of December.
Another popular idea is that this date was chosen to align with celebrations that traditional happened at this time of year and as Christianity was trying to expand its popularity it incorporated these dates into it belief system.
The winter solstice was an ancient pagan celebration that occurred at this time and there were also other popular Roman festivals during December.
The Winter Solstice is the day when it is the shortest time between the sun rising and the sun setting. This happens on December 21st or 22nd.
For pagans this meant that the winter was over and spring was coming a time of rebirth and renewal.
A concept that fits well with the Christian narrative.
The pagans celebrated the return of the sun and its victory over darkness.
This theme of light battling dark is also a thread that runs through most religions.
December 25 also hosted two other related festivals: natalis solis invicti (the Roman "birth of the unconquered sun"), and the birthday of Mithras, the Iranian "Sun of Righteousness" whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers.
If the Christian church was looking to absorb followers of other religions this idea is not out of the realms of possibility.
Another problem we have is that we use a different calendar system today.
In the 16th century Pope Gregory devised a new calendar, this calendar adjusted the dates and moved traditional holidays.
January the 7th using the Gregorian calendar is December 25th on the Julian calendar.
Still today many orthodox Christians follow the Julian calendar and celebrate in January.
So in summary the date of true Christmas may never be known, lost to the changes of history and the manipulations of leaders.
But does it really matter?
Christmas is a time to be reminded of the importance of family and friends, a time to show our love for others.
If you do this by exchanging gifts or gathering for a large family meal or in any other way.
It’s a time to celebrate life, love and happiness.
Have a wonderful Christmas
And an amazing new year.
Catch up with the latest @WeareIF
Catch up with the latest @WeareIF
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