Christmas is demanded by Catholics

The simplest answer would be: It is clear, because Jesus was born on December 24th, in the stable, in Bethlehem with a comet and so on. But it's usually not that simple - and Christmas is no exception.

Christmas is December 24th. That is not entirely true. December 24th is actually only Christmas Eve, the eve of Christmas. Christmas itself is therefore dated December 25th. So who's right now? Great Britain, America and Co., where Santa Claus fills his boots overnight and places the presents under the tree, or the German-speaking countries, where the Christ Child works in the living room on the evening of December 24th? Both - somehow!

Christmas presents on December 24th or on December 25th?

According to the ancient understanding of the day, the sunset also marked the end of the day. The evening of December 24th was therefore assigned to December 25th. So the 24th became Christmas Eve. Incidentally, not only the German-speaking countries usually celebrate Christmas presents on December 24th, but also Hungary, Argentina and many of the Nordic countries. In English and French-speaking areas, gifts are only given on the morning of December 25th.

Two theories for a date

Well, that would be settled. The question of the date remains. Two different explanations are predominant here. One theory that goes back to Judaism assumes that important people do not die on any day, but on their birthday. The background is the wish that God gives these people "full" years on earth. And now the big arithmetic begins. The 14th Nisan of the year 30 appears here as the anniversary of Jesus' death. That would have been - transferred to today's calendar - on March 25th. As is well known, Christmas is not in spring, but in December. That is because from March 25th one simply calculated nine months forward. And you've already arrived at Christmas.

The winter solstice and Christmas

A second theory requires less arithmetic. For this it leads back to ancient Rome. The festival of the "invincible sun" (sol invictus) was celebrated there from the end of the 3rd century at the time of the winter solstice. When Christianity finally got stronger, this originally pagan festival was filled with Christian content.

Both theories leave some things open - but maybe that's the nice thing about Christmas that not everything has to be fully explainable.

Published by Veronika Fehle on November 24th, 2020
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