Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Winter Solstice!

As far back as humans can remember, earth folks have indulged in mid-winter celebrations. It may have begun with stir-crazy cavemen seeking variety in the long, dreary nights. It attained a more specific schedule from sun-savvy ancients like the Egyptians, Druids, Aztecs, etc. From thence it was celebrated with the knowledge that the worst of winter was officially over.  The Romans set aside seven days (Dec. 17-23) for lawlessness and debauchery called the Saturnalia. I suppose we can thank the Winter Doldrums for the fact that this practice persisted into feudal times.

By now most people know that the birth of Christ was not December 25th.  Cuneiform scholars, working from ancient tablets inscribed by the Magi in Babylon at the time of the birth, have identified a date equivalent to September 11, 3 BC. (A much nicer reason to remember Sept. 11…) But there are other authoritative sources that place it anywhere from our current June to the end of harvest.
The point is, it was the raucous Saturnalia that prompted early Christian priests to choose the winter solstice for this solemn holy day. That settled things down nicely. But Christ really is the reason that we celebrate His birth on December 25th  ... no matter when He was actually born!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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