"The first to state clearly that Jesus was born on December 25 was Hippolytus of Rome, in his commentary on the book of the prophet Daniel, written about the year 204. Some exegetes later noted that the feast of the dedication of the Temple of Jerusalem, instituted by Judas Maccabeus in 164 B.C., was celebrated on that day. The coinciding of these dates would therefore mean that with Jesus, who appeared as the light of God in the darkness, there is the true realization of the consecration of the Temple, the Advent of God upon this earth.
The feast of Christmas took on definitive form in Christianity in the fourth century, when it replaced the Roman feast of the "Sol Invictus," the invincible sun; this highlighted the fact that the birth of Christ is the victory of the true light over the darkness of evil and sin."
It is the birth of Christ and only the birth of Christ which gives this mid-winter festival its unique character and that just maybe those who make their increasingly lonely and culturally eccentric way here and to other such places as this while their neighbours are (sleeping or partying) (or having champagne in bed or furiously unwrapping presents) have an inkling that the world may not be as it seems, and that love and holiness may not be such impossible ideals for us after all but may find their embodiment in Jesus Christ who lives among his people still, however imperfectly we try to follow him. In the messy, sometimes cruel business of living in the real world, Christmas tells us God himself came into the real world with a message of hope and joy and as a result we can look for grace and truth and an ultimate meaning for our own lives and the life of the world itself. In the baby in the Bethlehem stable and in the man on the cross on a hill outside Jerusalem - and they are one and the same person - we can start to find it. Despite everything, I think I like Christmas after all. +