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Merry Christmas! As everyone living within reach of broadcast media or the internet is well aware, today is the traditional celebration of Jesus’ natal day, as commemorated by modern Christians. While today is traditionally remembered as the day when Jesus was born, science and history indicate that today is a traditional celebration, rather than the literal day when Jesus was born.
There’s no need to cancel Christmas, but knowing the history of the holiday does make for interesting Christmas conversation. For those not familiar with the academic theories about when Jesus was born, historians point to the the celebration of the winter solstice as the inspiration for the late December date for this holiday. Many will cite the Roman census as proof that December was not the actual date, as requiring travel from all citizens during the coldest months of the year hardly makes sense.
There’s also the fascinating idea that the modern calendar, which counts years ostensibly based on the year when Jesus was born is inaccurate. The previous Pope of the Catholic Church even indicated in one of his books about the life of Jesus it was very probable that the years were inaccurately recorded, thanks to a transcription error by a monk centuries ago.
Historical analysis aside, scientists also debate the December date. An Australian stellar enthusiast with access to a powerful star charting program re-created the night skies over the Middle East 2,000 years ago and determined that the event referred to as the appearance of the Christmas star in Christian scripture occurred on June 17th, BCE. Given how consumerist the celebration of the Christmas holiday has become, truly devout Christians can breathe a sigh of relief that the date signifying the birth of Jesus has not, in fact, become analogous with plastic throw-away gifts and honey-glazed ham.
Christmas is meant to be a celebration of gratitude, family, forgiveness and hope. For those who are fortunate enough to spend the day with loved ones, hopefully there will be at least a few moments where the real spirit of Christmas shines through the haze of brightly wrapped gifts and casserole-related gluttony.
As with all culturally dominant holidays, Ladybud Magazine and its staff wish to remind those who celebrate Christmas to have compassion for those for whom this date is not a celebration. Those people include, but are not limited to: those of less-recognized religions, those for whom this holiday is an anniversary of a trauma or tragedy and those who are struggling with physical or mental health issues over the holidays (their own or those of a loved one).
Whether you are celebrating or just trying to survive a day when no stores are open, Ladybud wishes you the best today.
Merry Christmas, folks! May your holiday remind you of what really matters in life as the end of the year approaches. Onward to 2015 and a more socially just and equitable future for all!
Photo Credit: Cannabis Culture under (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr