Isn’t it great that important people are born on holidays?

I wonder how their mothers managed that? Martin Luther King Day, Presidents’ Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and Columbus Day – all celebrate birthdays on a day when we have holidays. NOT. (Only MLK Day celebrates one person’s birthday.) Of course, we know that when a child is born we don’t know what they will eventually do in the world. We name the holiday after the person has accomplished something we want to remember. Then we move it to a Monday so we can have long weekends. Sometimes we get it wrong. Even Christmas.

I cannot defend any single theory about the date of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. It could be based on the date associated with Zechariah’s service in the Temple when the angel announced the upcoming birth of John. (Add six months for the announcement to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus then add the nine months gestation.) It could be based on the belief that a person dies on the same day of the year as their conception. Or it could be based on the winter solstice or the Roman feast Saturnalia. The date is important because of why we celebrate it. Christmas is celebrated when the days (in the northern hemisphere) are short and darkness is at its greatest. Precisely because the light has waned we need to focus on things like joy, peace, and love. We celebrate Christmas in December because our spirits need to do so. We push back against the darkness.

It saddens me when people are distressed by the designs on coffee cups, the placement of nativity scenes, or some other evidence that there is a “war on Christmas”. Is our joy really so easily destroyed by what a disposable cup looks like? You don’t dispel the darkness by being angry or paranoid. Be sure to add to the light when the days are their darkest. If you celebrate joy, be joyful. If you celebrate peace, be peaceful. If you celebrate love, be loving. All these are God’s gifts to you even in the darkest times.

Blessed Holy Days,

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