Wednesday, December 10, 2008


This just in... astronomers determine Christmas should really be on June 17. Using software to reconstruct the positions of heavenly bodies, they found that on June 17, 2 B.C., Venus and Jupiter lined up in such a way that from Earth, they would have appeared as a single, very bright star. In other words, Jesus was born two years Before Christ. Now, I call that a miracle. Of course, if you're one of those wacky Christians that believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the earth is only 6,000 years old, you probably won't believe those god-hatin' astronomers, either. Read about it here.

Kind of makes you wonder if Wal-Mart and their ilk will try to find a way to make June 17 an excuse to get people to buy lots of useless crap, I mean consumer goods.


Suzy said...

Does this affect the timing of Hogswatch Night, and will the Hogfather still come in his sleigh drawn by wild boars?

Ed said...

I don't think this affects Hogswatch or the Hogfather at all, but I'll have to do some research on that.

Matthew Hubbard said...

No longer a believer, but Christmas is just the mass celebrating Christ's birth. There is no actual church dogma that says it's the day of Christ's birth.

Venus and Jupiter right on top of each other must be one heck of a sight. They were just relatively close to one another near Thanksgiving this year, and it was gorgeous.

Ed said...

Hi, Matty Boy,

Being reared non-Catholic, and the whole mass business being entirely foreign, that is definitely news to me. Thanks for clarifying. In the town where I was born, there were no African-Americans, Latinos or Jews, or if there were, they were invisible at that time. The ethnic minority were Catholics, most likely Italian, and the word "Catholic" was always spoken as if Catholics were odd and mysterious. I'm totally not kidding. Now, I could be wrong (it's happened once and in all likelihood it will happen again) but it sure seems to me that public opinion in the non-Catholic world is that 12/25 is Jesus's b-day.

Matthew Hubbard said...

Glad to help, Ed. When I was a churchgoer, I wasn't Catholic, but Episcopalian, who also call themselves Anglicans. They are big on the mass and communion and such. The only ritual the Catholics make a big deal out of that the Episcopalians ignore is confession.

All the strong evidence is that early Christian leaders decided on the timing of Christmas to compete with Winter Solstice celebrations practiced by the dominant religions of the day.

You're right about the public opinion that December 25 is Jesus' birthday.

Anonymous said...

Ed - as one of those wacky Christians who doesn't mind very much when Christ was born, I'm pretty cool about this. I'll be content with the the fact that he came down here at all! :) As for the age of the Earth - I'm with you and science on that one - at least until we learn otherwise! :))

Ed said...

I hope I didn't offend anyone with the "wacky christian" remark. I didn't mean that all christians are wacky, only that those who are threatened by and dispute scientific evidence as a matter of faith might, possibly, be just a wee bit wacky.

Unknown said...

Yes, what Matty Boy said about Jupiter and Venus last month. Amazing sight.

I don't celebrate Christmas as such. We do find ourselves calling it that anyway. It's really those old Pagan traditions that are followed up on, year after year for the same reasons: trying to create some hope and light among the darkness. So I guess it doesn't matter to me too much when Jesus was born but I'm glad that I know!

Ummm, Suzy...what are you talking about? ;-)

gomonkeygo said...

I'd rather celebrate something real this time of year, like the solstice, a recurring natural phenomena that every human on the planet can experience, than the supposed birth of a supposed god.

But I'm just plain crazy, I know.

Like Ed, growing up in the Lutheran hills outside of Madison, we didn't know what Catholics were. We knew that a few of our friends were in this "strange" religion, that they had a great ham and chicken supper every summer with bingo and beer, but that was about it. It was otherwise kinda creepy and not to be spoken of.

Round my current parts, if you were to suggest to any representative of just about any of the many fundamentalist churches that December 25 is only an intellectual conceit regarding the birth of Christ, you'd get crucified yerself. It's the baby Jeebus' birthday and it's nothin' else. End of discussion. With a flamethrower period.

I've also had the discussion in which one tries to explain the thousands of years of pre-Christian history that made the midwinter celebration of Christ's birth a logical and probably necessary act of co-opting by the early Church, but it's not one I'd recommend. Frosty stares, frosty indeed.

Then there's the fun conversation about how Catholics aren't Christians, according to my Christian friends. Because that's what their preacher tells them. And according to my ex-Catholic Smart Wife, they're right. Because Catholics, she says, don't accept Jesus as their Personal Saviour, thus they are not technically Christians in this regard. My brain hurts at this point and I just have another beer.

I wish I had one now.

Suzy said...

Pagan, I thought maybe Ed would explain the Hogfather, etc., but no. He's left it to me. Like many things.

It's a literary reference from, who else? -- Terry Pratchett. The author laureate of the the Grindrod-Feeny household.

This entire post reminds me of a guy I once dated who dared to use the F-word in his mom's house on Jesus' birthday. It was not a pretty sight!