Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sol Invictus

Merry Winter Solstice.

Today, is the shortest day of the year.

Today, the sun stops its long trip to the south, a journey it began on June 21st. It will stop in its tracks, setting in the exact same spot for the next three days, and then will turn around and head back north, bringing on the promise of the return of warmth.

The Winter Solstice is celebrated by cultures around the world, and it has been like this for millennia. Ever since man watched the sun, stars and planets, we knew this about the sun.

In ancient Rome, Winter Solstice was celebrated in a three-day festival called Saturnalia. This was a pagan celebration of the invincible sun, which was called Mithra by the Persians who instigated the religion. Mithra’s birthday was naturally celebrated at the Winter Solstice, then celebrated on December 25th – the Winter Solstice fell on that day according to the Julian calendar then in force.

It was a great holiday. So great that in the 4th century Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered then-Christian Rome to celebrate on December 25th, choosing that day because they already celebrated the pagan holiday. And the birthday of the Sun became the birthday of the Son.

And it has been with us ever since.

So when you hear people complain about how we need to “put the Christ back in Christmas,” or that “Jesus is the reason for the season” just smile and nod in agreement. Then put another ornament on the pine tree, have another pull at the Wassail bowl, put on Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas,” and read “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” to your kids one more time.

1 comment:

Marsha said...


Such a vast amount of knowledge from a
A Modern SCROUGE! Merry Christmas dear friend!