Thursday, December 25, 2008

...have yourself a merry little birthday...

Greetings from a clear, somewhat warm Chester County, PA. Christmas lunch yesterday was a lot of fun and then Christmas Eve dinner and gift exchanging was also great. Yes Virginia, we did open before the 25th, but that is fine with me...and all who shared in the experience. We had cake too! I don't think that either Santa or Jesus would mind. I am not convinced that Jesus was born on December 25th anyway! Not that it matters to me. I love Christmas, Hanukkah and any other holiday that celebrates love, friends and family. But, was Jesus born on December 25? There is no evidence for this date. So then, who decided that Jesus' birth would be celebrated on that date? The early Christian church did not celebrate Jesus' birth. It wasn't until A.D. 440 that the church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Christ. This was not based on any religious evidence but on a pagan feast. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. December 25 was used as a celebration of the birthday of the sun god. It was observed near the winter solstice. The apostles in the Bible predicted that some Christians would adopt pagan beliefs to enable them to make their religion more palatable to the pagans around them. Therefore, some scholars think the church chose the date of this pagan celebration to interest them in Christianity. The pagans were already used to celebrating on this date. The Bible itself tells us that December 25 is an unlikely date for His birth. Palestine is very cold in December. It was much too cold to ask everyone to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. Also the shepherds were in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October. This would place Jesus' birth in the spring or early fall. It is also known that Jesus lived for 33.5 years and died at the feast of the Passover, which is at Easter time. He must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter - making the date around the September/October time frames.

Now that we know there is truly a Jesus, no matter when his actual birth date is let's skip ahead to Santa Claus. Is there really a Santa Claus? Of course. I saw him several times over these past several years.

In a nutshell, the sun is shining, the good seems to outweigh the bad and somehow we have the strength to persevere. There is a Jesus and a Santa we really need to know anything else? Have a great day.