Posts Tagged ‘Saurnalia’

12/25/2012 – Ephemeris – Why do we celebrate Christmas today?

December 25, 2012 Comments off

Ephemeris for Christmas Day, Tuesday, December 25th.  The sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:07.   The moon, 3 days before full, will set at 6:40 tomorrow morning.

Merry Christmas.  But why is this Christmas day?  The Gospel of Luke puts Christ’s birth in the spring, during lambing season, the only time the Shepherds would be out with their flocks at night.  It is said that Christians move the birthday celebration of Jesus to a time when the Romans were naturally celebrating:  The time when the sun was going to return northward once again after the winter solstice.  Christians could celebrate in a time of general merriment.  That festival was Saturnalia.  It honored the god Saturn, the god of hospitality.  That’s quite a makeover of the Greek titan Cronos, who ate his children.  Saturn did that too, but had reformed.  The solstice was just the beginning of winter but spirits were buoyed by the return of the sun.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan.  They may be different for your location.