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Follow me to ancient Rome; summer was glorious; on the best days the sun shines till 10pm; summer comes with long bright days, and short dark nights. The other day by 5am the sun was up, we had 17hours of sunshine, and just 7hours of darkness. I am not looking forward to the winter months of October to March.
Winter in Rome keeps everyone indoors, burning wood to heat the home. The snow on the road is dirty and smelly with horse poop; nights come early. December is the darkest month, the sun dies completely; by late afternoon it is dark and stays that way till late morning; even when the darkness goes away, we don’t see the sun, its foggy, smoky, grey, dull, sad, and depressing. The good thing is that the sun is born again during the week of December 17-24.
As we approach the week when the sun is reborn, everyone is excited, we are going to celebrate with the big Saturnalia festival, with human sacrifice to Saturn, drink, dance, and flirt. This is why ancient Rome and Europe went wild during their mid-winter celebrations. The sun, the source of life is coming back, and they are grateful to their gods, and thus they celebrated with uncontrolled passion.
I listened to a Bible teacher, who said Constantine and Pope Julius chose December 25 to celebrate the birth of Jesus, as a secret way to celebrate Saturnalia in the Church; and as a way to destroy the Church. If that is true, then they failed; Rome and Europe became more Christian, human sacrifices stopped, public sex parties stopped, and the temples of Saturn, Jupiter, Yule, and other European gods closed down!
As the Christ Mass grew, more people celebrated December 25 calmly reflecting on Jesus as the true son of life. Many Christians opposed celebrating the birth of Christ during the mid-winter season and chose not to celebrate. Things stayed this way for 1500 years until Charles Dickens published ‘A Christmas Carol‘ in 1843.
Dickens used the book to condemn Ebenezer Scrooge the rich man, for not helping suffering children during the Christmas season. Ebenezer Scrooge was a caricature of many successful protestant Christian businessmen at that time who refused to celebrate Christmas. Dickens accused them of loving their money more than being compassionate to the needy in a season of need (the winter time). That novel made many protestants to start celebrating Christmas through missions, charity, and other playful (merry) activities for kids.
Jesus did say in Matthew 11:18-19 (New Living Translation): “For John [the Baptist] didn’t spend his time eating and drinking, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by its results.”
Wisdom is shown to be right by its results! Has celebrating the birth of Jesus on December 25 destroyed, or contributed to advancing the mission of the Church, in our world for the past 1700 years since Constantine picked that date, and had it validated by Pope Julius? This blog has a comments section, feel free to share your thoughts.
Lord, you own December 25, and every other day of the year, show me how to rejoice and be glad in you everyday, and not just on special days, Amen!