Why Do We Celebrate Christmas on December 25th?
When my children were very young, I missed the Christmas atmosphere from my childhood. The pageantry, the music, the stained glass windows and the golden leaf decorated altar of the Catholic churches and the solemnity and piety of the nuns in the convents when visiting for Pastorelas and Posadas. It all made an imprint in my spiritual being, and I wanted my children to experience it.
And as I have established before talking about “Las Posadas”. While I was working as a librarian of a school district, Christmas was a time for Frosty the Snowmen, Christmas trees, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, and Santa Claus, but there was no mention of the reason to celebrate Christmas: The birth of Jesus Christ. Even today, if you search for “Christmas” the first results you will get have nothing to do with Jesus Christ.
I was always taught that one go to school to find the truth about everything. As a librarian, the library had biographies of people, facts about their lives, basic information of their family, work, and an editorial about what most people believe about them. However, it is almost impossible to find a secular biography of Jesus of Nazareth. The best I could do was to add books about world festivals to our non-fiction section, and try to feature them in the month those celebrations happened; as long as I did not talk about them on the very day they were celebrated. So, I took the challenge, and I was able to talk about all of them every year. And yes, I talked about Christmas!
Why we celebrate the birthday of Jesus on December 25th.?
The Christmas traditions people celebrate all over the world today, have come to us in the past 1500 years or less. To start, the first “Christians” were Jewish, like Jesus, and Roman citizens in the different Roman provinces had different pagan beliefs and cults. In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. In the fourth century, church officials decided to institute the birth of Jesus as a holiday. The first recorded Christmas celebration was in Rome on December 25, AD 336. This date was established by Pope Julius I ;
there are Four theories of why this date was chosen.
1] In most areas of Europe, the end of December was when most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed them during the winter. In addition, the wine and beer made months before were ready for drinking. And, lastly, Winter was almost behind them and they looked forward to longer days and sunlight.
2] Saturnalia, was a month-long celebration in December for Romans, when schools closed, and people gave gifts to each other and self-indulged in whatever they pleased, similar to a Carnival atmosphere.
3] Scholars know that Mithras the God of Light, was popular among soldiers who served in the Roman army, because temples dedicated to the god are sometimes found near Roman forts, and Mithras’ birthday was celebrated on December 25th., “For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.
4] Hanukkah, The Jewish festival of Lights, starts on the eve of the Kislev 25 (the month in the Jewish calendar that occurs at about the same time as December). Hanukkah celebrates when the Jewish people were able to re-dedicate and worship in their Temple, in Jerusalem.
What do you think? Let me know.
Children’s books about Christmas that you might like to read.