Thinking back to the period roughly two-thousand and sixteen years ago, my thoughts drift to the way that the world was different than it is today. For one, the notion of the current expression of the calendar was still pretty new in human reckoning terms. For one, the month of August was called August for less than 10 years. The month July in Rome hadn’t been known by this name for 50-years yet, having become known by that name in 44 BC.
Precise birth records weren’t what they are today. Besides, the New Testament telling of the birth of Jesus, at least to biblical accounts that I am familiar with, tend to omit current historical features of interest, which would include the precise date that the historical figure Jesus Christ was born. While there can be some historical sense for when Passover and the events surrounding the death of Jesus Christ actually occurred, when the birth of Jesus Christ really happened can be debated. Mostly, I take the birthday of Jesus Christ as an article of faith and tradition as passed down by my faith and the culture I live in; that is, my faith and culture acknowledges the claim of a December 25th Christmas without argument.
So, how did we come to celebrate Christmas on December 25th, anyway? For that, the two biggest contributions were made by two men. First, the first Roman Emperor of Christian persuasion, Constantine, was a leader in Rome in the year 336. While conjecture exists around when the Romans understood the Winter Solstice to occur in 336, there was a festival honoring that event that coincided with the December 25th date. Also, the date where Mary was told that she was carrying “a very special package,” namely Jesus, is still celebrated March 25th by the Roman Catholic Church. In short, the tradition seems to have started 1,680-years ago.
A few years after the first Roman celebration of Christmas on December 25th, then Pope Julius I officially declared the official celebration of Christmas to occur on December 25. At that point, any debate would seem to have been formalized.
Matt – Sunday, December 25, 2016