Today (25 December) is a normal working day here in Tbilisi, Georgia. Christmas is celebrated on 7 January. The big celebration is on 31 December…a legacy from Soviet times…the communists wanted to distract people from the church-based Christmas festivities, so moved the present giving and feasting to New Year’s Eve….
We don’t know when Jesus was born. Scholars debate the month of Jesus’ birth. In 2008, astronomer Dave Reneke argued that Jesus was born in the summer. The Star of Bethlehem, Reneke told New Scientist, may have been Venus and Jupiter coming together to form a bright light in the sky. Using computer models, Reneke determined that this rare event occurred on June 17, in the year 2 B.C.
Other researchers have claimed that a similar conjunction, one between Saturn and Jupiter, occurred in October of 7 B.C., making Jesus an autumn baby.
Theologians have also suggested that Jesus was born in the spring, based on the biblical narrative that shepherds were watching over their flocks in the fields on the night of Jesus’ birth — something they would have done in the spring, not the winter.
We celebrate in mid Winter because of earlier Pagan celebrations of the Solstice and Saturnalia. By choosing this day to celebrate Jesus’ birthday, the church could put their spin on the popular pagan festival, as well as the winter celebrations of other pagan religions.
Whether you are working or celebrating today, I wish you all a Merry Christmas.