Monday, December 12, 2016
Notes on the Origin of December 25 as birthday of Christ and the Origin of "Merry Christmas"
A Few notes on December 25, and Merry Christmas by Dr. Arthur R. Byrd The Bible does not give any date or time of year for the birth of Christ. Luke 2:8 references shepherds tending their flocks at night, which suggest “spring” lambing season. In the cold of December, lambs would likely have been corralled. The early Christians did not celebrate the birth of Christ. Birthday celebrations were viewed as pagan. In around 200 ACE, speculation began about the birth of Christ. Most scholars of that era place the birth in August, or the more popular months of March and April. December 25 (winter solstice celebrations) seemed to have come from European pagan origins. Somewhere between 250-300 ACE, celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25 or January 6 seems to have taken hold. In 312 ACE, after Emperor Constantine I, converted to Christianity. This was a boost to the spread of Christianity, and included an attempt to appeased pagan Europeans to convert; thereby adopting their periods of celebration, which included December. The first official written documentation of December 25 as the birth of Christ occurred in 336 ACE, the Roman almanac tells of Christ’s Nativity festival. There are other Christmas (the Mass of Christ) that are pagan in origin such as gift-giving, Yule logs, and merrymaking. Now, “Merry Christmas”. It is not religious in origin. It is intended to convey feelings of joy and happiness. In fact, some people (especially in England) still say “Happy Christmas”. Origin: No doubt the phrase had been used informally for many years, but in 1534 John Fisher (Roman Catholic Bishop and cardinal. Beheaded for treason by King Henry VIII, in 1535), in a letter to Thomas Cromwell (Cromwell was an English statesman and lawyer who led reform efforts in England in the 1530s) wished him a Merry Christmas. Fisher was hoping to receive leniency form Henry VIII, which he did not. The term Merry Christmas got a significant boost in 1843 with the publication of Charles Dickens’ Christmas Carol. The phrase then began to appear on post cards, and the modern-day festival or Merry Christmas took on new meaning in the western world.