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How December 25 became Christmas?

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  • How December 25 became Christmas?

    Glen sent me this email:

    Glen B Smith
    To:lou newton

    Dec 25 at 1:15 PM

    How did December 25 became Christmas?


    why December 25 is not about a pagan celebration.

    Edited from an article by Dr. Andrew McGowan

    December 10, 2019

    The actual date of Jesus’ birth is not known. According to Augusine December 25th was adopted to align commemoration of his birth with the winter solstice, the date when night is at its longest and from whence the days begin to overtake the night in length. From Augustine's Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons: For the Feast of the Nativity it reads, “Hence it is that He was born on the day which is shortest in our earthly reckoning and from which subsequent days begin to increase in length. He, therefore, who bent low and lifted us up chose the shortest day, yet the one whence light begins to increase.”

    There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem, the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. This view was first suggested to the modern world by French scholar Louis Duchesne in the early 20th century and fully developed by American Thomas Talley in more recent years.Louis Duchesne, Origines du culte Chrétien, 5th ed. (Paris: Thorin et Fontemoing, 1925, pp. 275–279); and (Talley, Origins).

    However, they were certainly not the first to note a connection between the traditional date of Jesus’ death and his birth.

    Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedwas equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar.(Tertullian, Adversus Iudaeos 8).

    March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation—the commemoration of Jesus’ conception.

    There are other relevant texts for this element of argument, including Hippolytus and the (pseudo-Cyprianic) De pascha computus; see Talley, Origins, pp. 86, 90–91.

    Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.The ancients were familiar with the 9-month gestation period based on the observance of women’s menstrual cycles, pregnancies and miscarriages.

    This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.”(De solstitia et aequinoctia conceptionis et nativitatis domini nostri iesu christi et iohannis baptistae.) Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.

    Augustine, too, was familiar with this association. In On the Trinity (c. 399–419) he writes: “For he [Jesus] is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also he suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which he was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which he was buried, wherein was never man laid, neither before him nor since. But he was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th.” (Augustine, Sermon 202.)

    Additional interesting material from this Dr. Andrew McGowan article can be accessed at this site.