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From Andrew Alexander (bottom of article) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/articl...cture.html

Just a crafty Christian takeover Wrote:Now the festive season is over, we are no longer confronted by clerics telling us we should understand the true nature of Christmas. I am all for that. But it has nothing to do with Christianity.

As so often, the greater the myth, the more it is embroidered, in this case with wise men, angels, shepherds and the rest.
Christmas is merely an example of the Church taking over a pagan rite, much as it also took over spring fertility rites as Easter.

Christmas derives from the Roman holiday of Saturnalia celebrated in the depth of winter to spread good cheer. There was much feasting and jollity with everyone expected to discard formal clothing. Technology had not advanced as far as the Christmas cracker — but if it had, various clerics would have given it a religious significance.

It made tactical sense for the Church to take over Saturnalia since it was so popular. It had nothing to do with Jesus’s wholly unknown, but much guessed at, birth date.

The Church has always been crafty in these take-overs, including those of pagan temples traditionally known as places where you went to pray.

If someone produced Saturnalia cards, they might well find  a market.

So, am I writing the letter correcting this bigotry or is someone more educated and with a good penchant for writing these kinds of letters going to send something in?
I'd love to write the letters, just to give him my two pennies, but I can't because I have a horrible time of expressing these kind of things in word, I don't know why. But, he's extremely misguided.
I see Mr Alexander is a fan of The Big Bang Theory (TV show)  with his comments on Saturnalia.

I must admit to amazement at the ancient pagans.  Celebrating Christ's birth before He was born!  That's quite an achievement.  After all that's what Christians do at Christmas.  They celebrate the birth of Christ.  Not the winter solstice.

Such a base attack on Christmas.  Can we not do better lads?  You attack Christmas as a pagan holiday yet the pagans did not celebrate the nativity of God made Man.  Such artificial and childish criticism is not becoming of a modern educated man.
I remember reading somewhere that it is the other way around: that Christmas came first and the Emperor Julian the Apostate inaugurated the Feast of Mithras the Unconquered Sun on the same day. This was an attempt to lead Christians to embrace his regurgitated state paganism.

Quote:It made tactical sense for the Church to take over Saturnalia since it was so popular. It had nothing to do with Jesus’s wholly unknown, but much guessed at, birth date.

I just recently read an entry from Dom Gueranger's "Liturgical Year" about this subject.  Here is the relevant passage:

"...with regard to our Saviour's Birth on December 25, we have St John Chrysostom telling us, in his Homily for this Feast (AD 386), that the Western Churches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept it on this day.  He is not satisfied with merely mentioning the tradition; he undertakes to show that it is well founded, inasmuch as the Church of Rome had every means of knowing the true day of our Saviour's Birth, since the acts of the Enrolment, taken in Judea by command of Augustus, were kept in the public archives of Rome.  The holy Doctor adduces a second argument, which he founds upon the Gospel of St. Luke, and he reasons thus:  we know from the Sacred Scriptures that it must have been in the fast of the seventh month [or Tisri, which would correspond to the end of our September and beginning of our October] that the Priest Zachary had the vision in the Temple; after which Elizabeth, his wife, conceived St. John the Baptist; hence it follows that the Blessed Virgin Mary having, as the Evangelist St. Luke relates, received the Angel Gabriel's visit and conceived the Saviour of the world in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, that is to say, in March, the Birth of Jesus must have taken place in the month of December.

But it was not till the fourth century that the Churches of the East began to keep the Feast of our Saviour's Birth in the month of December.  Up to that period, they had kept it at one time on the sixth of January, thus uniting it, under the generic term of Epiphany, with the Manifestation of our Saviour made to the Magi, and in them to the Geniles...The Feast of our Lady's Purification [Feb. 2], with which the forty days of Christmas close, is in the Latin Church, of very great antiquity; so ancient, indeed, as to preclude the possibility of our fixing the date of its institution.  According to the unanimous opinion of Liturgists, it is the most ancient of all the Feasts of the Holy Mother of God; and as her Purification is related in the Gospel itself, they rightly infer that its anniversary was solemnized at the very commencement of Christianity."
(01-05-2012, 10:21 AM)Usquequo Domine Wrote: [ -> ]
Quote:It made tactical sense for the Church to take over Saturnalia since it was so popular. It had nothing to do with Jesus’s wholly unknown, but much guessed at, birth date.

I just recently read an entry from Dom Gueranger's "Liturgical Year" about this subject.  Here is the relevant passage:

"...with regard to our Saviour's Birth on December 25, we have St John Chrysostom telling us, in his Homily for this Feast (AD 386), that the Western Churches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept it on this day.  He is not satisfied with merely mentioning the tradition; he undertakes to show that it is well founded, inasmuch as the Church of Rome had every means of knowing the true day of our Saviour's Birth, since the acts of the Enrolment, taken in Judea by command of Augustus, were kept in the public archives of Rome.  The holy Doctor adduces a second argument, which he founds upon the Gospel of St. Luke, and he reasons thus:  we know from the Sacred Scriptures that it must have been in the fast of the seventh month [or Tisri, which would correspond to the end of our September and beginning of our October] that the Priest Zachary had the vision in the Temple; after which Elizabeth, his wife, conceived St. John the Baptist; hence it follows that the Blessed Virgin Mary having, as the Evangelist St. Luke relates, received the Angel Gabriel's visit and conceived the Saviour of the world in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, that is to say, in March, the Birth of Jesus must have taken place in the month of December.

But it was not till the fourth century that the Churches of the East began to keep the Feast of our Saviour's Birth in the month of December.  Up to that period, they had kept it at one time on the sixth of January, thus uniting it, under the generic term of Epiphany, with the Manifestation of our Saviour made to the Magi, and in them to the Geniles...The Feast of our Lady's Purification [Feb. 2], with which the forty days of Christmas close, is in the Latin Church, of very great antiquity; so ancient, indeed, as to preclude the possibility of our fixing the date of its institution.  According to the unanimous opinion of Liturgists, it is the most ancient of all the Feasts of the Holy Mother of God; and as her Purification is related in the Gospel itself, they rightly infer that its anniversary was solemnized at the very commencement of Christianity."

Thank you for this post.
(01-05-2012, 10:37 AM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-05-2012, 10:21 AM)Usquequo Domine Wrote: [ -> ]
Quote:It made tactical sense for the Church to take over Saturnalia since it was so popular. It had nothing to do with Jesus’s wholly unknown, but much guessed at, birth date.

I just recently read an entry from Dom Gueranger's "Liturgical Year" about this subject.  Here is the relevant passage:

"...with regard to our Saviour's Birth on December 25, we have St John Chrysostom telling us, in his Homily for this Feast (AD 386), that the Western Churches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept it on this day.  He is not satisfied with merely mentioning the tradition; he undertakes to show that it is well founded, inasmuch as the Church of Rome had every means of knowing the true day of our Saviour's Birth, since the acts of the Enrolment, taken in Judea by command of Augustus, were kept in the public archives of Rome.  The holy Doctor adduces a second argument, which he founds upon the Gospel of St. Luke, and he reasons thus:  we know from the Sacred Scriptures that it must have been in the fast of the seventh month [or Tisri, which would correspond to the end of our September and beginning of our October] that the Priest Zachary had the vision in the Temple; after which Elizabeth, his wife, conceived St. John the Baptist; hence it follows that the Blessed Virgin Mary having, as the Evangelist St. Luke relates, received the Angel Gabriel's visit and conceived the Saviour of the world in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, that is to say, in March, the Birth of Jesus must have taken place in the month of December.

But it was not till the fourth century that the Churches of the East began to keep the Feast of our Saviour's Birth in the month of December.  Up to that period, they had kept it at one time on the sixth of January, thus uniting it, under the generic term of Epiphany, with the Manifestation of our Saviour made to the Magi, and in them to the Geniles...The Feast of our Lady's Purification [Feb. 2], with which the forty days of Christmas close, is in the Latin Church, of very great antiquity; so ancient, indeed, as to preclude the possibility of our fixing the date of its institution.  According to the unanimous opinion of Liturgists, it is the most ancient of all the Feasts of the Holy Mother of God; and as her Purification is related in the Gospel itself, they rightly infer that its anniversary was solemnized at the very commencement of Christianity."

Thank you for this post.

So is this implying that Jesus really was born on Dec. 25th or simply that it's likely He was born in December?
(01-05-2012, 10:47 AM)Mithrandylan Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-05-2012, 10:37 AM)Vetus Ordo Wrote: [ -> ]
(01-05-2012, 10:21 AM)Usquequo Domine Wrote: [ -> ]
Quote:It made tactical sense for the Church to take over Saturnalia since it was so popular. It had nothing to do with Jesus’s wholly unknown, but much guessed at, birth date.

I just recently read an entry from Dom Gueranger's "Liturgical Year" about this subject.  Here is the relevant passage:

"...with regard to our Saviour's Birth on December 25, we have St John Chrysostom telling us, in his Homily for this Feast (AD 386), that the Western Churches had, from the very commencement of Christianity, kept it on this day.  He is not satisfied with merely mentioning the tradition; he undertakes to show that it is well founded, inasmuch as the Church of Rome had every means of knowing the true day of our Saviour's Birth, since the acts of the Enrolment, taken in Judea by command of Augustus, were kept in the public archives of Rome.  The holy Doctor adduces a second argument, which he founds upon the Gospel of St. Luke, and he reasons thus:  we know from the Sacred Scriptures that it must have been in the fast of the seventh month [or Tisri, which would correspond to the end of our September and beginning of our October] that the Priest Zachary had the vision in the Temple; after which Elizabeth, his wife, conceived St. John the Baptist; hence it follows that the Blessed Virgin Mary having, as the Evangelist St. Luke relates, received the Angel Gabriel's visit and conceived the Saviour of the world in the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, that is to say, in March, the Birth of Jesus must have taken place in the month of December.

But it was not till the fourth century that the Churches of the East began to keep the Feast of our Saviour's Birth in the month of December.  Up to that period, they had kept it at one time on the sixth of January, thus uniting it, under the generic term of Epiphany, with the Manifestation of our Saviour made to the Magi, and in them to the Geniles...The Feast of our Lady's Purification [Feb. 2], with which the forty days of Christmas close, is in the Latin Church, of very great antiquity; so ancient, indeed, as to preclude the possibility of our fixing the date of its institution.  According to the unanimous opinion of Liturgists, it is the most ancient of all the Feasts of the Holy Mother of God; and as her Purification is related in the Gospel itself, they rightly infer that its anniversary was solemnized at the very commencement of Christianity."

Thank you for this post.

So is this implying that Jesus really was born on Dec. 25th or simply that it's likely He was born in December?

It's a defense of Christmas being celebrated on Dec. 25th for real historical reasons, rather than symbolic.

It's most likely and certain that Christ was born on that date. I believe that. There's no way the early Christians didn't know it, especially Roman Christians.
Dec. 25 was, in those days, the date of the winter solstice - the birth of Sol Invictus - though the inaccuracy of the Julian Calendar meant that the solstice over time moved back. When Pope Gregory reformed the calendar the solstice moved to Dec. 21st.

(01-04-2012, 06:10 PM)City Smurf Wrote: [ -> ]I must admit to amazement at the ancient pagans.  Celebrating Christ's birth before He was born!  That's quite an achievement.  After all that's what Christians do at Christmas.  They celebrate the birth of Christ.  Not the winter solstice.

This is how I see it as well, Sol Invictus as a prefiguration of the Sun of Justice; leaving aside the historicity, it was not a matter of 'craftiness' but of aptness - the Church has every right to celebrate at this time.

Here is another excerpt a few pages past what I posted earlier:

"Jesus, our Saviour, the LIght of the World, was born when the night of idolatry and crime was at its darkest; and the day of his Birth, the twenty-fifth of December, is that on which the material Sun begins to gain his ascendency over the reign of gloomy night, and show to the world his triumph of brightness...it is on the day of the Winter Solstice - which the Pagans of old made so much of by their fears and rejoicings - that he gives us both the increase of the natural light, and Him who is the Light of our souls...

[According to St. Augustine Homily on the Nativity:] The day He chose was that on which the light begins to increase, and it typifies the work of Christ, who renews our interior man day by day.  For the eternal Creator having willed to be born in time, His Birthday would necessarily be in harmony with the rest of His creation...The great Precursor [St. John the Baptist] said on one occasion, when speaking of Christ: He must increase, but I must decrease.  These prophetic words signify, in their literal sense, that the Baptist's mission was at its close...But they convey...a second meaning: 'John came into this world at the season of the year when the length of the day decreases; Jesus was born in the season when the length of the day increases.  Thus, there is mystery both in the rising of that glorious Star, the Baptist, at the summer solstice; and in the rising of our Divine Sun in the dark season of winter.'

There have been men who have dared to scoff at Christianity as a superstition, because they discovered that the ancient Pagans used to keep a feast of the sun on the winter solstice!  In their shallow erudition they concluded that a Religion could not be divinely instituted, which had certain rites or customs originating in an analogy to certain phenomena of this world: in other words, these writers denied what Revelation asserts, namely, that God only created this world for the sake of His Christ and His Church.  The very facts which these enemies of our holy Religion brought forward as objections to the true Faith are, to us Catholics, additional proof of its being worthy of our most devoted love."
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