ORIGIN OF CHRISTMAS — A True Christmas Story

Long ago, country peoples from the Neolithic onwards celebrated the winter and summer solstices as the prime celestial events of significance to agriculturists in need of a simple calendar. 21st December is the year’s shortest day. For some days about then in the northern-hemisphere, the day length between sunrise and sunset hardly changes, and the point of sunrise on the far horizon scarcely changes either between any of the days from 18th to 25th December.

There are many web sites that discuss the detail of “The Origin of Christmas”, among them http://www.hope-of-israel.org/christ~3.htm and
http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/12/merry_newtonmas.html

Regarding the Christian search for a day on which to remember the birth of their hero, Barbara Walker among many others says that the fourth-century Roman church “favored the Mithraic winter-solstice festival called Dies Natalis Solis Invictus, Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. Blended with the Greek sun-festival of the Helia by the emperor Aurelian, this December 25 nativity also honored such gods as Attis, Dionysus, Osiris, Syrian Baal, and other versions of the solar Son of Man.” (1983. Encyclopedia, p.166, Harper Row)

Thus it came to pass that christian bishops at a 4th century meeting deliberately picked the holy day that everybody already loved because of its importance to pagan farming communities. And that is briefly how celebration of the prehistoric winter solstice on 21 December got shifted to 25 December.

A longer version of this note was posted today on the group "ORIGINS" where I remark that atheists are sincerely better off in recognising 25 December as “Newtonday” or “Newtonmass”, about which I am just finishing the preparation of another Nexus note.

Views: 66

Tags: Christmas, Newtonday, Newtonmass

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Comment by Oliver on March 1, 2010 at 8:47pm
Good to be among company. Thanks for the welcome.
Comment by Mark Mythos on January 25, 2010 at 9:30pm
Hi, I'm new to the group but not new to Freethought.
The Saturnalia got way out of hand and if I'm not mistaken, lasted for 12 days at one time, hence the 12 Days of Christmas. Of course, there's always someone who wants to ruin everyone elses fun, eh? There are, of course, many ruins around the world that point to December 21st for agrarian societies; Stonehenge, Tulum in the Yucatan, New Grange, etc, so this date was very important long before Christ.
Looking forward to other posts...
Mark Mythos
Comment by Dr. Terence Meaden on December 22, 2009 at 6:34am
Welcome to the group Hugh.
And I would like to say the obvious:
A Happy 'Fathersday' to Hugh Fathers?
Comment by iskate2 on December 27, 2008 at 8:52pm
I vote for Osiris-mas.
Comment by michelliberty on December 21, 2008 at 11:06am
its funny i was just asking my self about the history of all this madness, and wen it started.


thnks mike

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