Friday, December 21, 2007

Calculating Christmas

Here it is, posted again, the link for you to read the reason why Christmas is dated on December 25th. My friend Bill Tighe wrote this a few years ago, not to answer the ignorance of unbelievers and secularists, but to answer the misconceptions of his fellow Christians.

William J. Tighe on the Story Behind December 25.

Read it here.


poetreader said...

1. The likelihood of His birth actually having been on Dec. 25 is vanishingly small.

2. At any rate he was born into a society using the lunar calendar, and a birthday according to the Roman Calendar would be extremely unlikely.

3. Equinox and solstice celebrations are very widespread, and, whatever the actual source, March 25 was the equinox and Dec 25was the solstice. I tend to find coincidences rather unlikely.

4. From quite early days it was not unusual for the Church to adopt and/or redefine a pagan date or custom -- a concious attempt to apply redemption to society.

5. Such convoluted calculations as Dr. Tighe outlines most certainly did occur.

6. human gestation is (on the average) more closely reflected by the passage of nine lunar months (9menstrual cycles) than of nine of our calendar months, in which case his birth would have been somewhat earlier than 12/25.

6. Any relationship between any of the above is strictly conjectural.

I'm thoroughly unconvinced as to the source of the date we keep, and would find such an idea if no more than passing interest. I am quite well convinced that it is not the "true" date. However, I believe and confess that He was both conceived and born, and that it is good to celebrate the events. For whatever reason the Church, yea many centuries ago, chose these dates, and it is right and good to keep them.


Fr. Robert Hart said...

he likelihood of His birth actually having been on Dec. 25 is vanishingly small.

The point that Bill Tighe made seems more to be that we have a Christian rather than Pagan reason, and a spiritually significant reason, for Dec. 25th. Accuracy on the calendar is another matter.

poetreader said...

The crux of my statement is not in the opening point, but in the concluding paragraph. Bill did an excellent job of showing the plausibility of an alternate to the usual explanations, but I do not feel he managed to make it the only acceptable explanation. I, for one, am unconvinced that a pious effort based on faulty data is necessarily more spiritually significant than a frank taking over of a pagan date for strictly Christian spiritual reasons. I seriously doubt, at this late date that the matter can be conclusively settled, but the date the Church indeed has chosen -- THAT has been settled, centuries ago.

I refrained from comment last year, and likely won't jump in next year, but couldn't let it pass permanently unremarked.


Anonymous said...

At the risk of being off topic (we're all getting nervous), I once read a little book published by the Jehovah's Witnesses in which it was explained that they didn't celebrate Christmas because only pagans in the Bible ever celebrated birthdays. It turns out that they don't celebrate birthdays at all, for the same reason. Now, that got me thinking when a slightly fundamentalist friend justified not going to church on Christmas Day by, 'Well, of course, He wasn't born in December anyway.'

Now, my point here is that I think that the World, and large parts of the Church, don't quite appreciate that Christmas isn't a birthday party. Therefore, the date on which it is kept does not have to be the actual date of birth, and that, of course, we are actually celebrating something of far greater significance than a mere anniversary of birth anyway.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

At the risk of being off topic (we're all getting nervous)

Your life is spared for another day.
Remember, you're only" off topic" if we don't like you- "and your little dog too."