Christmas open thread

Merry Christmas to everyone in the Bleeding Heartland community who celebrates the holiday, and peace on earth to all, regardless of religion. All topics are welcome in this open thread.

Last year I posted a few links on the origins of the Christmas narrative. Historians agree that the birth of Jesus was not one of the earliest Christian festivals, and it wasn’t until the fourth century that Christmas was widely celebrated on December 25 or January 6. No one knows the date of Jesus’ birth, and I had always assumed that the late December celebration stemmed from Christians appropriating pagan winter solstice festivities. However, Andrew McGowan offers a different theory on the Biblical Archaeology website.

There is another way to account for the origins of Christmas on December 25: Strange as it may seem, the key to dating Jesus’ birth may lie in the dating of Jesus’ death at Passover. […]

Around 200 C.E. Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan (the day of the crucifixion according to the Gospel of John) in the year Jesus diedc was equivalent to March 25 in the Roman (solar) calendar.9 March 25 is, of course, nine months before December 25; it was later recognized as the Feast of the Annunciation-the commemoration of Jesus’ conception.10 Thus, Jesus was believed to have been conceived and crucified on the same day of the year. Exactly nine months later, Jesus was born, on December 25.d

This idea appears in an anonymous Christian treatise titled On Solstices and Equinoxes, which appears to come from fourth-century North Africa. The treatise states: “Therefore our Lord was conceived on the eighth of the kalends of April in the month of March [March 25], which is the day of the passion of the Lord and of his conception. For on that day he was conceived on the same he suffered.”11 Based on this, the treatise dates Jesus’ birth to the winter solstice.

Many people eat traditional family dishes on Christmas. I enjoy reading Patric Juillet’s account of the Provencal culinary traditions from this season. I don’t cook anything that elaborate at any time of year, but I do plan to make noodle kugel later today. Like many Jewish Americans, we marked Christmas Eve last night by eating Chinese food and watching a movie.

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