Beginning January 1, 2013

Stop by and let us know what you think of the new look!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



The Birth of Christmas

Whose idea was it to have Christmas in the first place? Why December 25, a day no one could prove was Jesus’ birthday? Turkey dinner, holiday cards, decorated trees, mistletoe, carols, Santa Claus—who came up with all these traditions?

Church fathers first suggested December 25 as a good day to celebrate the nativity early in the fourth century, in the hope of eclipsing the festivities of a rival religion they felt threatened Christianity.

For two centuries after Christ was born, the actual day of the event was unknown, and in truth, few people cared. Death days counted more at the time than birthdays. Religious leaders felt that, since Christ was divine, his birth date didn’t matter. In fact, the Church taught that observing Christ’s birthday was sinful and demeaned Christianity.

Theologians, however, disagreed and proposed several different dates: January 1, January 6, March 25, and May 20. Of all these days, the latter one became the most popular because of the statement of Luke that the shepherds who received the announcement of Christ’s birth were watching their sheep by night. Shepherds guarded flocks day and night only during the spring lambing season. At all other times the sheep were penned and unguarded.

The final straw that forced the Church to legitimize December 25 as the day of the Lord’s birth came about because of the growing popularity of Christianity’s major rival religion, Mithraism. Pagan Romans, still in the majority, celebrated Natalis Solis Invicti, the “birthday of the Invincible Sun God,” Mithras. This cult came into existence in Persia and took root with the Romans in the first century B.C. By A. D. 274, Mithraism was so popular with the masses that the emperor proclaimed it the official state religion.

Church fathers decided the time had come to do something about their rival. So, to give their converts a chance to enjoy a celebration they could take pride in, Christ’s birth was officially recognized. Of course, by their dictate, the day was to be one of prayer at a special mass. The celebration of Christmas took hold and stuck. Upon the occasion of the baptism of Roman emperor Constantine, Christianity was proclaimed the state religion.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a $15 Amazon Gift Card.

About the Author:
Charlene began her writing life at an early age, often penning stories with herself cast as the heroine. Usually, once she’d vented her spleen, she threw out these stories. Her first serious writing attempt didn’t come until 1980 when she awoke one morning from an unusually vivid and compelling dream. Deciding that dream needed to be made into a book, she dug out an old portable typewriter and went to work.

While that book never sold, her second one did. Tender Touch became a Golden Heart finalist and earned her an agent. A short time later she signed a three book contract with Kensington Books. Five of Charlene's western historical romances were published between 1994 and 1999: Taming Jenna, Tender Touch (1994 Golden Heart Finalist under the title Brianna), Forever Mine (1996 Romantic Times Magazine Reviewer's Choice Award Nominee and Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist), To Have and To Hold( Affaire de Coeur Reader/Writer Poll finalist); and writing as Rachel Summers, The Scent of Roses.

After the collapse of the historical romance market, Charlene took a break from writing, but not for long. Since then she has completed two novels, A Kiss and A Dare, her first contemporary paranormal romance, and Divine Gamble, which earned first place at the 2010 Romance Through The Ages contest in their western historical romance category. At present, while polishing her completed works, Charlene is reworking that first book she wrote that was inspired by a dream.

When not writing, Charlene loves to travel, do needlepoint, research genealogy, create digital scrapbooks, and dye Ukrainian eggs. She also enjoys camping and fishing with her husband, spoiling her grandchildren and playing with her very neurotic cat.


Debby said...

I always find it interesting that Christmas was set to get people to convert from another religion.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Kemberlee said...

Th church changed a lot of Pagan holidays in hopes of converting people to Christianity. I'd kinda like to know what the Sun God festival was like. Especially since there's not much sun this time of year. Did you learn anything about that,Charlene? I'd be interested to know too why the Sun God festival didn't take place on the winter solstice...the shortest day of the year. Or do we think the dates for both at screwy because of the calendar change?? Yes I've thought about this a time or two :-)


An Open Book said...

I try to focus on family, friends and shared love when it comes to the holidays. I have my religious beliefs but... too much controversy in reality.

dawne dot

Kathleen Ball said...

The winter solitice and pagans - I can imagine the church wanting to stop that. Love your post -- very interesting!!

MomJane said...

Loved reading about the date chosen to celebrate christmas. Thank you.

Mountain Laurel said...

It is fascinating discovering why we celebrate certain holidays at certain times. I enjoyed your tib-bit, and thank you for sharing it with us!

Anonymous said...

Glad you found my blog interesting. Christmas is a fascinating tradition. Thanks for stopping by.

Shannon Ro said...

Thanks for the really interesting history lesson. I chose to think of the 25th as more of a symbolic birthday since the actual date is unknown

fencingromein at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

I think that's how most people feel, Shannon. Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations to Kathleen. She is the winner of my giveaway of a $15 Amazon gift card. Thanks for commenting, Kathleen.