Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Clean Power

How Christianity Usurped Christmas & The Sun

Once a joyous celebration of the return of the Sun, or the rebirth of light, Christmas Day and the Winter Solstice have had their respective event dates adjusted over time.

Historians, astronomers, religious scholars, and that vast miscellany of folks who just plain love to celebrate our Sun should find this article by physicist John Perlin of interest, especially at this time of year, when the Winter Solstice draws near.

Perlin, author of Let It Shine: 6,000 Years of Solar Energyhas been kind enough to share his knowledge with CleanTechnica readers.

Christians had for the longest time celebrated the birth of Christ during the first week of January.

But Bishop Liberius of Rome ordered in 354 that all Christians celebrate the birth of the Christ child on December 25. Syrian Christian Bishop Dionysius Salibi writing in the 12th Century explained why: “”It was a custom of the Pagans to celebrate on the same 25 of December the birthday of the Sun, at which they kindled lights in token of the festivity. In these solemnities and revelries the Christians also took part. Accordingly, when the doctors of the Church perceived that the Christians had a leaning to this festival, they took counsel and resolved that the true Nativity should be solemnized on that day.” Their leaders told them they would be celebrating the birth of the true Sun – Sol Iustitiae – the Sun of Righteousness – Christ.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Before the advent of the Gregorian calendar (Julian calendar – 45 BC – was Julius Caesar’s reform of the Roman calendar), the Winter Solstice came on December 25. During several months prior to that date the sun seems to fall lower and lower on the horizon and to spend less time in the sky each succeeding day till it reaches its lowest point and shortest duration on the Winter Solstice, which caused fear and anxiety to the ancients that it had become sick and would soon die.

But then it was reborn after the Solstice, as the days lengthen and the sun rises higher and higher in the sky. Once again the Sun proved invincible to the eyes of its beholders. Just as it always had conquered the evils of darkness each night as a new day dawned, no matter how far it fell the Invincible Sun rose once more. And so for merry-making on December 25, lit up by torches and made joyful by decorations of branches and small trees, the Romans celebrated the “Feast of the Invincible Sun.”

Mr. Perlin is currently contributing a series of articles on photovoltaics. See the first two here:

Author John Perlin Celebrates The Coming Year Of Light

Author John Perlin & The Solar Cell

Sources:

Gaston Halberghe, The Cult of Sol Invictus, (1977; Leiden: Brill), 174-175. (the only scholarly work existing on this subject)

Bishop Dinoysius Salibi, quoted in Ramsay MacMullin, Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to the Eighth Centuries, (1997: New Haven and London: Yale University Press), 155.

Art: Sol Justitae handkerchief  from Flickr Creative Commons 

 
 
Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
 
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

New Podcast: Cruise Talks Autonomous Driving Tech, Regulations, & Auto Design

New Podcast: Battery Mineral Mining Policies & Regional Trends

Written By

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Cars

A few days ago, I saw a Ford Mustang Mach-E ad for the first time on YouTube. My first impression was that it was...

Batteries

It sometimes happens that a symbolic event marking the end of one era neatly coincides with an event that ushers in the next, although...

Cars

Tesla Greater China is in the holiday spirit and has shared some adorable Christmas decorations.

Policy & Politics

The shortest day of the year is now behind us. It is time to begin constructing a clean, sustainable world in the new year.

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.