December 24th – Time to Pause

We’re nearly there.  The journey through these 24 days of advent is nearly done.  On this Holy Night we remember that Jesus was born.

Now let’s not get hung up on dates.  Shepherds wouldn’t have been in the fields in December.  It’s too cold even in Jerusalem (where they can have snow on snow!!!)

Chances are Jesus was born in the spring not the winter,. so why December 25th.

In fact it wasn’t until 336AD that Emperor Constantine decided that the date for the celebration of the Mass of the Nativity of Christ (or as it became known the Christ Mass) should be 25th December.

The Christian Church had long history of camping its festivals and buildings on old pagan dates and places.  Many Christian Churches are on ancient pagan sites.  Many Christian festivals camp on ancient pagan dates.  

The name Easter comes not from the Bible but from the festival of Eostre – a fertility goddess, which the Church erased with the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That one was easy because of the overlapping dates.

The pagan winter festivals centred around 25th December which whilst it isn’t the shortest day is the day when you can measure that the days are getting noticeably longer (by about a minute).

By placing the Christ Mass slap bang on top of these pagan festivals Constantine achieved his goal.  Christmas became the celebration, not the old pagan rituals.

Alas, we appear to have a whole heap of new Consumerist rituals attempting the same trick with Christmas!  But, less Humbug methinks.

Today is a day to pause.  To take time, before the great festivities of the morrow, to remember the truth, that whatever the date was, at a particular point of history, in a backwater town, in an occupied nation, to parents destined to be refugees, God became one of us – he “moved into the Neighbourhood”.

Take time to pause today in wonder.

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