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Christmas Myth: The winter solstice

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Each year, millions of people all over the world celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. But Jesus was not born on December 25th. Historical evidence shows that Jesus was most likely born in late spring.

As Christianity spread through Europe, the Roman Catholics faced challenges converting the native people to Christianity. The local residents were comfortable with their pagan religions. They were accustomed to the traditions and beliefs that they had grown up with and their ancestors had practiced for generations. It was common for the Christians to integrate some of the festivals and holidays of the native cultures to make the transition to Christianity a more welcome change. One of the local customs was to celebrate the winter solstice, December 21st. The winter solstice marks the shortest day of the year; from that day on the days get longer and spring is just around the corner. It is a very important day to people who live in the far north, like most of Europe, with very limited resources for heat and food during the winter months.

Being a very important time of the year for the populace that the Christians were trying to convert, the end of December was ideal for celebrating the birth of Christ. The cold temperatures that kept people indoors, the lack of farm work to be done, and the already existing festivities made it ideal for a more meaningful celebration. Christmas became a time of year to reflect on the origins of the Christian religion.

The Roman Catholic’s intent on spreading the word of God throughout the world changed a pagan worship of the middle of winter into a holy time of year to share with family.



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