Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What is Christmas?

You say to everyone that you are happy because is Christmas is coming soon, although we all know that is just an excuse since the real reason you are excited is because of the year-end holiday. You don’t have to do school assignments and you can wake up late to watch the seemingly endless re-run of CSI. Everything is good until one of your nephews ask, “What is Christmas?” in which case the following minutes seem dark and you get a tiny bit of dizziness. Fortunately there is no need to call a doctor as the headache will go away as soon as commercial breaks start to roll.

Nothing is like a real Santa Claus, because real Santa Claus does not really exist, for real.
Christmas is celebrated in December 25 and largely believed to be the birth date of Jesus. There are too many reasons why his birthday is celebrated by millions – if not billions - of people around the world. Partly because Jesus was born to a Virgin named Mary, partly because he was born in a stable, but mostly because he is both God and Son of God; for more on this seemingly miraculous thing, read your mother’s Bible.

In the United States and probably everywhere else also, Christmas is the time when family – including distant relatives you have never seen or heard of before – gather for massive dinner with winter dress code. Christmas Eve is the time where you have to buy gifts and leave them under a Christmas tree for kids to open in the morning. Avoid buying expensive gifts because you cannot take credits for them; Santa Claus do.

In contrast to what you think, Christmas is not actually the most important holiday according to the Church but Easter is. Regardless of what the authorities say, people tend to have their own opinions just like on any other matter really. You’re wrong, but everybody else must respect your opinion nonetheless. Just because Christmas is not that important, it does not change the fact that it is the most popular. Many religious leaders, especially during the early days, believed most important events happened in Jesus’ later life and therefore should be celebrated more cheerfully.

Neither any historical record nor the New Testament marks the exact date of Jesus’ birth. There had been confusions among the authorities and as a result they considered many different dates such as November 20, November 17, May 28, May 20, April 19, April 18, March 25, March 21, and January 2, or any date that has not been used for another holiday perhaps. In the fourth century, Western Church began to use December 25 for the holiday, and eventually the Eastern friends followed suit.


Believe it or not, Christmas has as origin as pagan holiday. December 25 was the considered best date for Jesus’ birthday for no apparent reasons. Some say it was selected to line up with Roman holidays that celebrated the worship of the sun and winter solstice. There are also other not-so-interesting facts to know:

  • Based on early Christian tradition, Mary was informed that she would have a one of a kind baby, Jesus, on March 25; this was the day when the message was delivered to the virgin. It is anybody’s guess how she reacted. Because early Christians also thought that all infants took exactly 9 months inside their mothers’ wombs to develop before they came to see the world for the first time, Jesus would be born on December 25. It’s only logical, according to Mr. Spock.
  • Early Christians also thought the world was made on March 25. No fossil of dinosaur calendar has been found to confirm this.
  • Apparently some people did math and figured out that Jesus died on March 25 (or 14th of Nisan in Jewish calendar).
  • December 25 might have been chosen because Roman festival called Saturnalia and Dies Natalis Solis Invicti took place around the same date.

Saturnalia took place between December 17th and 23rd, while celebration for Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (the birthday of the unconquered sun) was held on December 25th, so maybe Sheldon Cooper is right all along. Jewish festival of lights, called Hanukkah, starts on Kislev 25 – Kislev is the month in Jewish calendar that falls around the same time as December – to celebrate their first chance to practice religion again in Jerusalem after many years of hiatus. Remember that Jesus was a Jew, so you should put this possibility into account as well.

Now tell those to your nephew and be the least cool uncle in the world.