Skip to content

Happy Solstice!

December 21, 2010

Even as we approach our annual celebration of God sending His son to be the light of the world, I also take joy in the promise of the sun returning with its light to our part of the world.  I’m a tropical gal and long grey winters of short cold days wear on my soul.  That’s why I celebrate Solstice.  It’s not religious; it’s astronomical.  Christmas, for me as a Christian, does have a very special meaning, which has become eclipsed by trees and feasting and holly and ivy and jingle bells and presents for pretty girls and annual television specials we all know by heart.  These are not bad things.  In fact, they are quite fun in a dreary time of year.  That’s why people took them up so long long ago.  But they are not the thing.  So, in my own way, I’m trying to separate them as I can.  Today, Midwinter, is the shortest, darkest day of the year, so bring in some greenery to remember life, light the log to remember warmth, and gather friends to celebrate this turning point from decreasing to increasing, from darkness toward light, from going into winter to heading into spring.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy permalink
    December 21, 2010 17:20

    Very well said.

  2. Jennifer permalink
    December 27, 2010 13:06

    I celebrate the winter solstice, too. Even after 24 years in Ohio I can’t stand the winters here. I came from sunny Colorado where it snows, then the sun shines. Anyway, this was in our church bulletin a few weeks back before solstice. I found it very interesting and now don’t feel guilty at all celebrating winter solstice.

    When Was Jesus Born?
    Is December 25 really Jesus’ Birthday? Is it really going to be the 2010th year since the birth of Christ? For about 300 years now “really” has come to mean that we can prove it with a government document or a scientific experiment. But for our ancestors, something that might not be so easily proved could still be real, still be true.

    We do not have a birth certificate for Jesus. In fact, the Gospels are silent as to the date of Christ’s birth. The two Gospels that do speak about the year contradict each other. Matthew 2:1 states that Jesus was born “in the days of King Herod,” who died in March or April of the year that we would call 4 BC, 2014 years before the year 2010. Luke 2:2 states that Jesus was born when Quirinius was governor of Syria, that is, not until the year that we would call 6 AD, or 2004 years before the year 2010. So, we do not know scientifically the year of the Savior‟s birth.

    What about the date – December 25? It is possible this is Jesus’ birthday. We know that some churches kept December 25 as the solemn feast of the nativity very early on. Maybe they knew something we do not. Some think that there are other reasons why December 25 has been kept as Jesus’ birthday at least since the year 336.

    Some scholars think that Christians began celebrating the birth of Christ on December 25 because it was the pagan feast of the “Unconquered Sun,” proclaimed by the Roman emperor in AD 274. According to the calendar at the time, December 25 would have been the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, when hours of sunlight stop “shrinking.” (December 21 is the solstice on modern calendars.) Since Christians knew, that Jesus was truly the “Unconquered Sun of Justice,” what better day to feast his birth? (At least everybody already had the day off).
    Another group of scholars think that the early Christians thought, “Well, the Gospels say nothing of Christ’s birthday, but John the Baptist, as usual, points to the truth. He says, “Christ must increase, but I must de-crease‟ (John 3:30). Now we can figure out Jesus’ birthday!” People in those days believed that what happened in nature was a clue to the whole meaning of life. So John the Baptist was hinting that his birthday was the Summer solstice – the longest day of the year – June 25 on the old calendar. (In fact, we still celebrate the birth of the Baptist on June 24.) After all, John is the brightest and strongest of the prophets to foretell Christ’s coming.

    So this means that John would have been conceived on September 25 (the autumn Equinox on the old calendar.) Being a holy saint, a perfect person, he would have been in Elizabeth’s womb for exactly nine months. Well, Luke 1:26 tells us that John was conceived six months before Jesus. So, Jesus was conceived on March 25. (We still celebrate this day as the solemnity of the Annunciation, and it was the first day of spring according to the old calendar!) Being the Son of God, Christ is the perfect human being, so of course, he was in Mary’s womb exactly nine months, and thus born on December 25.

    Some today scoff at this logic, sadly missing its profound poetry, its inner truths. (In a time when most people did not know math such calculations would have been respected as sacred knowledge.) And sadly, there are still those today who will not believe that Jesus even existed until they see some kind of birth certificate. But we who are baptized are open to other ways of knowing truth bigger than official documents and laboratory evidence can tell. We learn in our liturgy to sense divine action in human history. We know that we can trust our church calendar, waiting in Advent, rejoicing at Christmas, joyfully celebrating God in the flesh – our flesh! – born into our world, redeeming even our calendar, giving us holidays to cherish.

    Today is born our Savior, Christ the Lord!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: