celebrate Christmas? Did you know that Christians in the first three centuries of the Church did not celebrate Christmas? What is the history behind Santa Claus?. date of the nativity, such that the assumption that Christmas is unconnected with .. The Calculation Theory of the origin of Christmas was first articulated by may be viewed at prouvinevgosin.ml%20books/Priestly%20Courses. In ancient pagan times, the last day of winter in the Northern Hemisphere was celebrated as the night that the Great Mother Goddess gives birth to the baby Sun .
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centuries, a bishop saint of Asia Minor, and a pagan god of the. Germans merged to become Santa Claus". "Although the Christmas story centers in the Christ. of the birth of Sol, as no certain knowledge of the day of. Christ's birth existed.” Now notice! These recognized historical authorities show Christmas was not. It is a historical fact that the Christian church did not eradicate pagan Christmas customs, but it rather embraced and incorporated the practices.
Peeters, From Spring to Winter In the end, the only objection against CT that carries some considerable weight concerns the calendrical shift from the birth to the conception that is presupposed by the argument.
CT has to assume that third-century Christians developed a modified version of this view, where the time of birth was replaced with the time of conception in the womb. In his view, it is unlikely that this trend would have been suddenly reversed on purely chronological grounds. Who can rule out that such a change of mind did occur?
But one has to concede that the argument raises serious doubts for CT, if no further evidence can be adduced. The picture begins to change once we consider exist- ing early traditions that assign to Jesus a birth in midwinter.
Examples for such a tradition, even predating the paschal table of Hippolytus, can be adduced: Clement of Alexandria died ca. In the words of Duchesne, Origines, If this was an early tradition, it may have preceded the assignment of the birth to 6 Jan- uary and even given rise to the latter, as has been suggested by Duchesne and Talley.
Clement, Stromata 1. Sozomen, Historia ecclesiastica 7. John Cassian, Conlatio Beckwith, Calendar, Is the Seemingly Obvious Correct? Nothaft curred. Beckwith points out that Tertullian linked the coming of Marcion to the rising of the Dog Star i. That such a tradition should have arisen early on is all the more likely given the fact that it could even be derived by exe- getical means.
In order to prove to his audience that 25 December was the historical birthday of Jesus, Chrysostom wrongly assumes that Zechariah was the High Priest and that, by consequence, the annunciation scene depicted in Luke took place in the Holy of Holies on Yom Kippur cf. Leviticus The latter is on 10 Tishri in the Jewish calendar, which would put the conception of John in autumn, near the time of the equinox.
Since Beacon Press, , pp. Hinrichs, Peabody, MA: He begins his chronological demonstration by citing Zechari- ah 8: In the On the solstices, these are identified as months in the Jewish calendar, counted from Nisan cf. Exodus The fourth month thus becomes June, while the seventh and tenth month are identified with September and December.
As our author notes, these are the months of the year to which the beginnings of the seasons summer, autumn, winter are traditionally assigned. John Chrysostom, In diem natalem D. Jesu Christi, PG 49, cols. On the chronological indications in Luke ch. Other commentators have assumed a fourth- or even third-century origin, located in either North Africa or Syria.
The text of De solstitiis et aequinoctiis was edited by Botte, Les origines, , and again in Patrologiae Latinae Supplementum, ed.
Adal- bert-Gauthier Hamman, vol. De solstitiis et aequinoctiis, ed. Botte, Les origines, In his version of the argument, the conception of John took place on 11th day of the lunar month Tishri , i.
Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease. The same argument is made repeatedly in the works of St. See De diversis quaestionibus Tipografia Poliglotta Vaticana, , , Cosmas Indicopleustes, Topographia christiana, PG 88, pp.
Akademie Verlag, Ambrose, Expositio Evangelii secundum Lucam 1. Ephrem, Commentary on Exodus See further ibid. In this mid-second centu- ry infancy Gospel, Zechariah appears as the High Priest, who enters the Holy of Holies in order to ask God for counsel after the Virgin Mary, who had been entrusted to the temple by her parents, had reached maturi- ty.
That said, the assignment of the conception of John the Baptist to shortly after Yom Kippur only points to the approximate time of the year, i. Under these circumstances, it is difficult to overlook the congenial role offered by 25 March, the day of the vernal equinox, as a means of chron- ological calibration. Thanks to the paschal table of Hippolytus, we can be sure that 25 March played an important role in Christian chronology as the date of the crucifixion since at least the early third century, thus lay- ing the ground for an influential calendrical tradition in the Western Festschrift Frans Neirynck, ed.
Van Segbroeck, et al. Leuven University Press, Frederick C. Protoevangelium of James 8. Elliott trans.
A Commentary Assen: Van Gorcum, Nothaft church. At the winter solstice, the sun reverses its trend of shining for fewer and fewer minutes each day and the duration of daylight begins to increase again. At the vernal equinox, the duration of day and night reach equilibrium and shortly thereafter the light of day surpasses the dark of night for the first time.
Thus, both dates are a fitting expression of the victory of light over darkness. Julius Africanus and 25 March While Western church tradition associated 25 March with the crucifixion of Jesus, Eastern sources more commonly viewed it as the date of the resurrection in conjunction with the year 31 CE. Aside from Hippolytus, a contemporary reference to 25 March as the Passion date is found in Tertullian, Adversus Iudaeos 8.
The possibility must be considered, however, that this part of the work was not written by Tertullian or that the exact crucifixion date may be a later interpolation. See Nothaft, Dating, Gebet und Gesang im christlichen Altertum, 3rd ed. Aschendorff, , and Wall- raff, Christus Verus Sol. Grumel, La chronologie, See now the excellent analysis in Mosshammer, The Easter Computus, , See the new edition of Martin Wallraff ed.
The Extant Fragments Berlin: Teubner, ; William Adler, Time Immemorial: Dumbarton Oaks, ; Martin Wallraff ed. Early Christian Chronology and the Origins of the Christmas Date From these fragments, we know that Africanus counted five and a half millennia between creation of Adam and the incarnation of Jesus Christ, meaning that he dated the latter events to annus mundi or AM At the same time, he dated both these events to the second year of the nd Olympiad, which corresponds to the spring of 31 CE.
In this year, 25 March fell on a Sunday, the weekday of the resurrection. In 31 CE, 25 March would have been close to a full moon, in accordance with the chronology of the Passion. It would hence seem that he structured his chronicle around the date of 25 March, because he was pleased with the correspondence of the resurrec- tion with the fourth day of creation, on which the sun and the moon be- gan their course making this day the beginning of calendrical time.
If this is the case, then Africanus at least implicitly dated the birth of Jesus to the following winter, perhaps even to 25 December.
The resurrection date on 25 March continued to play a crucial role in the chronological system underlying the lost chronicle of the Alexandrian Mosshammer, The Easter Computus, Mosshammer, The Easter Computus, , Dieterich, , basing himself on a tentative proposal in Gelzer, Sextus, 1: Beginnings to AD , ed.
Andrew Feldherr and Grant Hardy Oxford: Oxford University Press, , p. Nothaft monk Annianus fl.
Yet while Africanus had assigned to Jesus a lifespan of only 31 years, Annianus added two more years, dating the crucifixion to AM and the resurrection to the beginning of AM That Africanus was the source for a nativity on 25 December cannot be demonstrated with certainty, but the evidence is such that this possibility should be taken very seriously.
In this case, the Christmas date would ultimately trace back to the same roots that also spawned the various crucifixion dates that were common in late antiquity: Conclusion As the foregoing deliberations have shown, there is a substantial amount of chronological evidence that must be taken into consideration when investigating the origins of the Christmas date, but which is too often ignored or dismissed by proponents of alternative theories. The Chronography of George Synkellos, trans.
William Adler and Paul Tuffin Oxford: Oxford University Press, xxix-lxxv. For the latter date, see Syncellus, The Chronography, trans. Adler and Tuffin, Whether this is how it happened or whether, conversely, the pagan influence played more than just a secondary role is impossible to tell with hindsight, unless more evidence comes to light. This conclusion comes as distressing news in light of the great confidence with which certain simplified versions of HRT are nowadays passed around as common knowledge, both at univer- sities and as part of public discourse.
If this essay was able to undermine such certainties for the debate on the origins of Christmas, then its task has been fulfilled. The Warburg Institute C. By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated. By the Middle Ages , Christianity had, for the most part, replaced pagan religion.
The poor would go to the houses of the rich and demand their best food and drink. If owners failed to comply, their visitors would most likely terrorize them with mischief. An Outlaw Christmas In the early 17th century, a wave of religious reform changed the way Christmas was celebrated in Europe. When Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England in , they vowed to rid England of decadence and, as part of their effort, cancelled Christmas.
By popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday. The pilgrims, English separatists that came to America in , were even more orthodox in their Puritan beliefs than Cromwell.
As a result, Christmas was not a holiday in early America. From to , the celebration of Christmas was actually outlawed in Boston. Anyone exhibiting the Christmas spirit was fined five shillings.
By contrast, in the Jamestown settlement, Captain John Smith reported that Christmas was enjoyed by all and passed without incident. After the American Revolution , English customs fell out of favor, including Christmas. Americans re-invented Christmas, and changed it from a raucous carnival holiday into a family-centered day of peace and nostalgia. But what about the s peaked American interest in the holiday? The early 19th century was a period of class conflict and turmoil.
During this time, unemployment was high and gang rioting by the disenchanted classes often occurred during the Christmas season. This catalyzed certain members of the upper classes to begin to change the way Christmas was celebrated in America.
The sketches feature a squire who invited the peasants into his home for the holiday. In contrast to the problems faced in American society, the two groups mingled effortlessly. The family was also becoming less disciplined and more sensitive to the emotional needs of children during the early s. As Americans began to embrace Christmas as a perfect family holiday, old customs were unearthed.
People looked toward recent immigrants and Catholic and Episcopalian churches to see how the day should be celebrated. In the next years, Americans built a Christmas tradition all their own that included pieces of many other customs, including decorating trees, sending holiday cards and gift-giving.
Although most families quickly bought into the idea that they were celebrating Christmas how it had been done for centuries, Americans had really re-invented a holiday to fill the cultural needs of a growing nation. There are 21, Christmas tree growers in the United States, and trees usually grow for about 15 years before they are sold.
From to , the celebration of Christmas was outlawed in Boston, and law-breakers were fined five shillings. Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States on June 26, Poinsettia plants are named after Joel R.