My Perspective: So what if the date is wrong

In the immortal words of Peter Pan, I plan to never grow up. Especially when it comes to Christmas.

I have been looking forward to December 1 for weeks, watching the advent calendars on our mantle greedily even though I know the chocolates they contain are woefully small.

It’s the childhood wonder of opening its little windows each morning that has stuck with me.

This year more than half the excitement has been about sharing this with Daniël, who at two and a half, is now finally old enough to get caught up in the Christmas spirit.

I’ve also ordered a colourful storybook all about Jesus’ birth and I can’t wait to start reading it together.

We have already decorated the Christmas tree and are stringing lights from every available surface.

Then there’s baking Christmas cookies, carol singing, Christmas light displays and stockings filled with gifts. This is a birthday party for Jesus, so we get to go all out.

Christmas “Grinches” will try to rain on your parade by explaining that Christmas trees, carols, mistletoe and the rest are all really Pagan traditions.

Then, as if to add insult to injury, that we have the date of Jesus’ birth all wrong.

Well they could be correct but it doesn’t bother me one whit. In fact, I think the history behind these traditions is quite fascinating.

According to the first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25 was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine.

He was the first Christian Roman Emperor and under his rule Christians went from being persecuted for their faith to having the official religion of the empire.

I suspect the date was chosen because Constantine was thinking strategically – he wanted his subjects to accept his religion and many of them already celebrated the winter solstice around the same time.

On the shortest day and the longest night, the year was seen to be reborn. The winter solstice was of huge importance the world over because it was critical to monitor the changing seasons in order to survive (think planting of crops).

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Lesley Naudé
News Editor

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