- - Sunday, December 21, 2014


Every year as Christmas approaches we see the same two teams going at it again. Quite frankly it is getting a little old. Anti-religious zealots often go too far trying to expunge Jesus and nativity scenes from the public square. People have been so cowed into saying “Season’s greetings” and “Happy holidays” and avoiding “Merry Christmas” at all costs that we now have some people saying “Happy holidays” at Thanksgiving time, as if “Happy Thanksgiving” would offend anyone. “Season’s greetings” is as vacuous as wishing someone a “Happy Wednesday.” Personally, I have never cared whether someone wished me a happy anything. My true happiness does not depend on it.

Every December we also are treated to Bill O’Reilly girding on his sword and valiantly leading the pro-Christmas forces into battle with his considerable power, sincerity and tenacity. He and those who share this stance think (and not without some merit) that their faith is under constant attack from the secular left. Many on the pro-Christmas side, when wished a “Happy holidays,” will defiantly respond with a proud “Merry Christmas.” But one issue that never seems to arise is that, given that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25, and given the pagan origins of the holiday, should Christians be celebrating Christmas at all?

Most scholars (even those who celebrate Christmas) know that Jesus was not born on Dec. 25. Luke 2:8 says that when Jesus was born, “there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.” Shepherds would not have been abiding in the fields by night in late December. Luke 2 shows that Joseph and a pregnant Mary went from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a 70-mile journey, to be taxed (or registered). The Romans would logically have chosen the most convenient time for travel for the hated “census taking,” and that was in the fall when many Jewish people would go to Jerusalem for the new year. Most admit now that Dec. 25 was chosen because of pagan winter solstice festivals celebrating the rebirth of the sun after the shortest day of the year. Further, the Bible associates pagan practices with “green trees” (Deuteronomy 12:2, Isaiah 57:5).

With respect to the “war on Christmas,” I will sit that war out.


Plainview, N.Y.

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