Sometimes a Traditional Catholic  (a Catholic whose teachings haven’t changed down through the centuries – we’re not the New Coke)  suffers criticism for his beliefs and  experiences challenges and thinly-veiled sarcasm.  That’s all right.  St. Peter says we ought to be “ready to give an answer for the reason for our hope . . .”


One common myth resurrected at this time of the year is the assertion that the Church paganized herself early on, and in order to appeal to the Roman culture chose the popular feast of  Saturnalia to mark the birth of Christ – presumably without its drunken orgies.


Also, popular among 19th century philosophers of the “Higher Criticism” of the Bible was the assertion that Christ was born in September.   Evidence?  Because shepherds wouldn’t be “tending their flocks” out in the cold, perhaps snowy winter.   Later that thought seeped into non-Catholic Christian thinking.

Makes a little sense,  but your logic and reasoning has to be based in fact,   not speculation.

There they are!   Sometimes grazing in snow!

Sheep in Snow


So, finally, at my “great advanced age”  ( !!)  I heard a reasonable explanation as to why the early  Christians chose Dec. 25th for the birth of Christ.  As with all great lectures and teaching moments,  a lot of information is given,  it all hangs together . . .  and you walk away remembering the “general idea” and a few supporting details.    That’s almost all I’ve got right now,  but I’ll correct any details later.

December 25th  starts with Moses!  Or specifically, his brother Aaron,  first High Priest of God Most High.  Aaron and all his descendants, 24 of whom held that hereditary position among the Hebrews.   Moses received and then taught the instructions about how to worship God;  Aaron carried out the priestly duties.

Temple    One later descendant of the family of Aaron was a man named Zachary (Zacharius).   He was an older man,  had an older wife,  no children,  but carried out his duties in the Temple in Jerusalem in a rotation of 24 times,  two weeks per time, and the timing depended upon which family or “course”  of Aaron’s descendants he was in.

You can be sure detailed and accurate records were kept!   We look up a man’s family,  and we can tell exactly what time of the year he had served in the Temple.

One year Zacharius (I’ll use the Latin version of his name)  served in late September.      That was when he received the heavenly announcement that he and his elderly wife would have a child and his name would be called John, a rather non-family name for Zacharius.

explain this to your wife

Explain that to your wife!!

The story goes that he rather didn’t believe that,   but John would come,  and Zacharius would be mute until the baby was born.   And it all happened that way.

Count nine months from late September . . .  The Church celebrates the birth of this great man,  John the Baptist,  on June 24th.

But something else happened just before that,  on   the 25th of March.   Christ came into the world:  i.e.,  Jesus was conceived on March 25th, or –  the 10th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar.   The Church celebrates the Annunciation  (and His conception)  on March 25th.

Then what happened?  The young Virgin Mary went off to visit her elderly relative,  Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharius, and in their mutual joy and praise of God,  Mary stayed for three months in their little mountain town of Ein Karem,  which you can visit today.

ein karem

Then she went home.

Count nine months from March 25th —  and you get . . .  December 25th,   which is when Christ was born  in Bethlehem — as prophesied many centuries before.

See, Faith and Reason go together.   One’s intellect supports one’s faith,  never a contradiction . . .   unless your reasoning or facts are faulty.  It’s Sunday today –  I heard a protestant preacher on the radio  say that December 25th was chosen because it is the Winter Solstice – the longest, darkest night of the year, and Christ, the Light of Men,  came into the world to defeat that darkness.

Partially true,  but I know that the Winter Solstice occurs on December 21st.   I  know because with a little gleeful youthful snickering,  my husband-to-be and I chose that date to be married!

But it’s still a “dark”  time for planet  Earth, and Christ is still the Light of the World.



So there’s the reason we celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December!


You needn’t believe the History Channel, or the protestant preachers, or the limp speculations of the new version of the Church.   Think of the way things actually were, in the year Christ was born:  Aaron, recorded in the Temple in late September,  home to his wife in a “nuptial embrace,”  the birth of their son on June 24th or so,  the birth of Jesus, his cousin, six months later,  which was Christmas Eve into Christmas Day.




Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Analysis, Christmas, Holy Days

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