On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love queried me: “Why do we celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25 when scholars disagree on the actual date?”
Are you implying that all those Christmas cards I sent over the years depicting a snow-covered Nativity were a fraud?
Fact is, it’s impossible to know when Jesus was actually born because the Bible is silent on the subject. Apparently its writers considered the matter unimportant. But that hasn’t stopped speculation on the subject for centuries. One school points out that the Gospel of Luke’s mention of shepherds tending their flocks by night when they heard the news indicates that it was lambing season, or spring. Another argues that sheep reserved for Temple sacrifice would have been grazing freely even in winter. Still others think the most likely time was in September.
Whatever the case, the church did not assign the Nativity to December 25 until the beginning of the fourth century, possibly because they wanted it to coincide with pagan festivals honoring Saturn (Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (Persian god of light).
It should be noted that some have chosen not to celebrate the world’s most famous birth at all. Early church father Origen stated that “only sinners like Pharoah and Herod . . . make great rejoicings over the day on which they were born into this world.” The Puritans of 17th-century Massachusetts banned the holiday because there was no Biblical basis for a December 25 festivity, as well as for what they considered its pagan roots. Some modern Christians also adhere to the latter reason.
I like Pastor Jack Hayford’s response to that:
“Years ago I decided I would never allow myself to come to Christmas on the basis of the status quo, but that I would let the fresh joy of this season infuse my spirit, along with a child-like expectancy. Making a decision like that requires refusing another order of spirit—the ‘bah humbug’ attitude or ‘Scrooge spirit’ that dampens delight and reduces our sense of animation, expectation, and welcome of the Lord and His season.”
My take: Whatever your faith or traditions, it is my hope that you’ve not only enjoyed the posts of these last 12 days as much as I have sharing them, but that the “Spirit of Christmas” will live in your heart and life throughout the coming year.
“God bless us, everyone!”