Christmas and the Solstice
For those of us in the northern hemisphere, one of the rather nice connections with Christmas and the natural world is that the celebration of Our Lord’s birth takes place just after the annual winter solstice. This is the darkest day of the year. Christmas is therefore just after this darkest time when the the light is just starting to increase each day. Obviously, the all of our brothers and sisters in the southern hemisphere things are quite different, but up north this connection with light and darkness is a nice addition.
However, a problem arrises when people claim that the celebration of Christmas was all made up as a replacement for pagan celebrations of the winter solstice. The truth is that the exact reason for December 25th being the day of Jesus’ birth is not completely clear. There is, however, some good evidence to show that long before the celebration of Christmas, the Church celebrated the Annunciation on March 25th. Add nine months and the you can see that the date of Christmas was set based on this (I always assumed it was the other way around). Whatever the reason for the date, we celebrate the true light coming into the world as God became man. Now that’s a lot more to celebrate than just the revolving of the earth around the sun.