Exact date of Jesus birth remains uncertain
December 21, 2004
Yesterday was the first day of winter and of the winter solstice that occurred at about 4:42 a.m., a time when the earth leans just slightly on its axis. Much like a spinning top frozen in one off-kilter position.
A time when our seasons change in which each hemisphere receives a slightly different share of hours and minutes of precious sunlight. The daylight will be shorter as the sun will be at its lowest arc in the sky. It was the Mesopotamian’s who first claimed the celebration of the winter solstice.
And it is the Christian community who chose to celebrate Christmas at this time of the year. The exact date of Jesus’ birth, the real reason for Christmas, can not be determined in the Bible.
However, it was in the Fourth Century that Pope Julius chose Dec. 25 as the day that would be Christmas.
Many of our celebrations including Christmas were, in the beginning, pagan festivals that were intentionally absorbed by Christianity. With the church’s decision to celebrate Christmas at the end of December during winter solstice insured that Christmas would become popular with the general public.
Christmas was not a holiday in early America because of strict puritanical beliefs among the settlers. Christmas became a federal holiday June 26, 1870 and was then celebrated on Dec. 25.
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Now, Christmas has become commercialized, taking away from its true meaning. Father Bill at St. Gall Catholic Church illustrated this fact in his homily; A woman who had been shopping all day and was very tired entered an elevator with her husband. She said, “I wish they would kill whoever started Christmas.”
A voice from the back of the elevator replied, “they already have, they crucified him.” True, but the crucifixion was not the end, but the beginning.
There has never been anyone who walked on earth that is so revered, who is the beacon of light that shines for all humanity.
The birth of Christ was humble, remember there was no room at the inn, so our Savior was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and laid in a manager, the same manager that animals fed from.
It is my reminder that it is not what you accumulate while on earth that is important.
It is what you do for others, this is how I strive to live, no matter how difficult, it is what Christ instructed through the scriptures. That honesty, hard work, love, fairness, and thoughtfulness are finer attributes than any other. Over the years, I have observed that hatefulness, dishonesty, greed, lack of fairness or love does not in the end justify the means.
The Prince of Peace had a simple message, while here on earth love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Around the world and from that first Christmas celebration many nations end the year with the same reverence. It appears that many cultures find the lighting of candles to dispel the darkness an important part of their celebrations. Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of lights occurs around this time every year. It begins on the 25 of Kislev, three days before the new moon closest to the Winter solstice .
A historical time in Jewish history when the Maccabees were victorious over the Greeks and the rededication of the temple at Jerusalem.
As we gather with friends and family to enjoy the many blessings this country has to offer let us remember, the members of the armed forces stationed around the world, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Just give a thought to those held in bondage, and so many others hungry, without shelter this Christmas, and all through the year.
Humanity, here and around the world in large numbers, wonder why me, cry out, and may even ask the question, but may not receive an answer from above, maybe the answer can only come from us.
“In peace sons and daughters bury fathers, but war violates the order of nature, and fathers bury sons and daughters.”
— JoEtta Brown can be reached at JoetBro@aol.com.