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JESUS And Christmas

"From Pagan Festivals to Christian Traditions: Tracing the Path of Christmas Origins"

By aly suhailPublished 6 months ago 3 min read
Annie Spratt Unsplash

The predominant association tied to Christmas revolves around commemorating the birth of Jesus. However, the specific date of Jesus' birth has been a source of debate over time. Scholars and theologians, Pope Benedict XVI among them, agree that December 25th is not the actual date of Jesus' birth. Consulting the scriptures for clarity poses a challenge, as the New Testament lacks any mention of Jesus being born on December 25th or any specific date. The Gospel of Luke does offer some insights, highlighting shepherds tending to their flock in fields during Jesus' birth.

This biblical account implies that the birth likely took place in a warmer season, as it seems improbable for shepherds to be outdoors with their flock on a cold December night. Albert Barnes, a 19th-century American theologian, echoes this idea in his commentary, suggesting that Jesus was born before December 25th, possibly in a more temperate period. Other biblical commentators and even the Holy Qur'an point toward a warm season, emphasizing the unlikelihood of Mary seeking shade under a date tree and receiving ripe dates in December.

If December 25th isn't the actual birthdate of Jesus, it raises inquiries about the origins of Christmas celebrations and traditions in Christianity. Historical evidence proposes that the selection of December 25th remains uncertain, with early Christians potentially aligning it with the pagan Roman festival that marked the "birthday of the unconquered sun," coinciding with the winter solstice. David Ingraham, a researcher, notes that in A.D. 375, the Church proclaimed December 25th as Christ's birthdate without biblical or historical backing, likely for the convenience of merging the celebration with the pagan festivities of the season.

The prevailing consensus suggests that the church purposefully chose December 25th as the date for Christmas in order to assimilate and incorporate customs from the pagan Saturnalia festival. Originally designated as the Feast of the Nativity, this observance expanded to Egypt by the year 432 and had reached England by the conclusion of the sixth century.

The strategic decision to align Christmas with the well-established winter solstice celebrations was a calculated move by church leaders to increase the likelihood of widespread acceptance. However, this deliberate alignment came at the cost of surrendering control over the manner in which Christmas was observed. As the Middle Ages unfolded, the influence of Christianity gradually supplanted various pagan practices.

In the midst of Christmas celebrations, believers would partake in church services before immersing themselves in lively and often boisterous festivities reminiscent of today's Mardi Gras. A distinctive tradition emerged, involving the annual crowning of a beggar or student as the "lord of misrule," with enthusiastic participants enthusiastically assuming the roles of his subjects. The less privileged members of society would venture into the homes of the affluent, making demands for the finest food and drink. Instances of non-compliance from the hosts might lead the visitors to engage in playful mischief, or in some cases, mischief with a more menacing undertone. Over time, Christmas transformed into a period where the upper echelons of society could repay what they perceived as their real or imagined "debt" to the community by entertaining those who were less fortunate.

Even the narrative surrounding Santa Claus has sparked considerable debate, particularly concerning the potential harm caused by perpetuating the myth and whether or not it is appropriate to deceive children. In an article published in The Lancet Psychiatry, psychologist Christopher Boyle and researcher Kathy McKay delve into the implications of the Santa Claus story. They raise the question of whether the act of lying to children about Santa Claus could potentially sow seeds of distrust. The concern is articulated as follows: if adults are capable of fabricating a tale about something as special and magical as Santa Claus, can they be trusted to consistently serve as reliable guardians of wisdom and truth in the eyes of children?

This perspective introduces a nuanced angle to the discourse on the Santa Claus tradition, touching upon the broader implications of the practice. It prompts reflection on the potential repercussions of fostering a belief system that involves deliberate misinformation, especially when it comes to something as cherished and fantastical as Santa Claus. The authors, Boyle and McKay, highlight the psychological aspect of the issue, suggesting that the trust children place in adults may be influenced by the authenticity and transparency of the information they receive, even in the context of seemingly innocent traditions.




World HistoryMedievalLessonsGeneralDiscoveriesAncientAnalysis

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aly suhail

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Cathy Maulion6 months ago

    Nice 👏👏👏👏

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