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Who decided Christmas was in December?


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May 30, 2009 5:02PM

The explanation in the Wikipedia provides a summary: "For many centuries, Christian writers accepted that Christmas was the actual date on which Jesus was born. However, in the early eighteenth century, some scholars began proposing alternative explanations. Isaac Newton argued that the date of Christmas was selected to correspond with the winter solstice, which in ancient times was marked on December 25. In 1743, German Protestant Paul Ernst Jablonski argued Christmas was placed on December 25 to correspond with the Roman solar holiday Dies Natalis Solis Invicti and was therefore a "paganization" that debased the true church. In 1889 Luise Duchesne suggested that the date of Christmas was calculated as nine months after the Annunciation on March 25, the traditional date of the conception of Jesus." It is unlikely that Jesus was actually born in December. The Gospel account of Luke records that an angel appeared to shepherds who were watching over their sheep in the countryside (Luke 2:8ff); this is not something that shepherds would have been doing in December as it would have been too cold and grazing insufficient for the sheep. The earliest reference to the birth of Jesus being celebrated on 25th December is found in an Roman illuminated manuscript called the Chronography of 354. It is certainly true that early Christian practise was to Christianize existing pagan festivals, so it is not unlikely that this is what happened with Christmas (Christ's Mass) by having it supplant the celebration of the winter solstice. In some Christian churches e.g. Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholicism, the Epiphany on 6th January is celebrated with greater solemnity and joy than Christmas Day. Related link: (New Advent: Catholic)