I thought this was common knowledge but apparently not. I was taught this in Sunday school in Kentucky AND in Astronomy class in good old Western Kentucky University but clearly some people missed the memo so I guess this will have to be my InfoBarrel "holiday" article.
The Bible is always right, right?
The Bible says shepherds were out freezing their butts off in the middle of the winter whenâ€¦oh wait, sorry, my bad. Shepherds were out tending their flocks. That means spring to early fall. Shepherds don't tend flocks in winter in Palestine because it's, uh, winter.
So what happened on December 25th anyway?
Winter solstice occurs on December 23rd which is the day of the least amount of sunlight for those living North of the Tropic of Cancer. It varies a little by calendar but usually it's around then so December 25th is two days after the shortest day of the year for the Northern Hemisphere. Naked eye astronomy is easy isn't it!
Who's getting naked on Christmas?
To a naked eye astronomer (and that's all you had for most of human history you know) you're sweating pagan arrows by December 23rd. You can see the sun is getting smaller and smaller and you're starting to wonder if that sucker is ever coming back. On December 24 you think you see something but you could be wrong. By December 25th you're sure. The sun is definitely getting bigger, the day is getting longerâ€¦let's party! Sun worshippers really knew how to party and the Romans really knew how to copy so there you go.
Um, where is Jesus in all this?
After a couple of hundred years the Christian Church decided to pick a party date and go with it. Seriously.
Doesn't everyone know this?
Apparently not, especially Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona. When Senate leader Harry Reid threatened to call the United States Senate back after Christmas in 2010 Senator Kyl said Reid was "disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians."
Dear Senator Kyl, please do two things: first stop talking, your ignorance is embarrassing to Christians and non Christians both. Secondly, get one of your grand children to go to "The Google" and search on the word "Easter". Finally, here's a quarter. Go call your mother and tell her there is serious doubt of you ever graduating from Sunday School.
So in closing let me just sayâ€¦
Merry Christmas everyone!
Author's note â€“ no self referring links, no affiliate links and no animals were used in the writing of this article.