Exploring the first Christmas

The birth of Jesus Christ has long been celebrated on Dec. 25 of every year. The fi rst recorded celebration of Christmas dates back to Dec. 25, 336. However, it is not known for sure if Christ was even born during the month of December, much less on the day we come together to cel-ebrate.

It is speculated that Christ may have been born as early as November or as late as March. However, through time the date of Dec. 25 was adopted as His offi cal birthday.  In the early days of Christian-ity, there wasn’t much emphasis given to celebrating or recording birthdays.

Rather, the day a saint died received more emphasis and was considered more signifi cant than a birth. In terms of Christ, some histo-rians and religious scholars sur-mise that Christmas was chosen to be in December to coincide with other religious and cultural festivals taking place at the same time. The Jews had their “Festival of Lights,” while Pagans cel-ebrated Saturnalia, a celebration giving gifts to the poor, but also feasting and drinking.

Some say that to prevent his people from pagan debauchery, a Christian bishop at one time established Christmas on Dec. 25 to compete with these other festivals. Others believe a different story. When the church reached a consensus that Christ’s conception occurred on March 25, it seemed reasonable to simply celebrate His birth nine months later.

Regardless of how it started, Christmas remains a time to share in the wonder of Christ’s birth and the magic of charity and love this time of the year.

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2009-12-17 digital edition

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