The solstice is the day when days start getting longer, meaning that spring, and a good harvest, will return again. The winter solstice starts on December 21st now, but in 283 BC, it was closer to December 25th. The consecration of an ancient Greek sun god statue, the 200 ton Colossus of Rhodes, was celebrated on December 25th of that year. This may have inspired the decision to celebrate Jesus’ birthday on that date, which was made by Roman emperor Constantine, in the 4th century AD. For Constantine, this symbolized the idea that the Jesus had taken the place of the ancient gods.
In the Independent, David Keys quotes historian Alaric Watson as saying, “Constantine’s choice of 25 December as the day on which to celebrate the birth of his divine patron, Christ?may well have originated in the celebration of the winter solstice at Rhodes some six centuries earlier.” No one knows the real birth date of Jesus, but it is known that shepherds would not have been out in their fields in late December.
Whatever you’re celebrating at this magical time, all of us here at unknowncountry wish you the happiest holidays ever.
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