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754, a date first suggested two centuries later; in no year between 751 and 754 could 25 December fall on a Friday; tradition is constant in placing Christ's birth on Wednesday. Apart from this, these entries in a consul list are manifest interpolations. Vel quod dicant Solis esse natalem, ipse est Sol iustitiæ." — "But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . Conclusion The present writer in inclined to think that, be the origin of the feast in East or West, and though the abundance of analogous midwinter festivals may indefinitely have helped the choice of the December date, the same instinct which set Natalis Invicti at the winter solstice will have sufficed, apart from deliberate adaptation or curious calculation, to set the Christian feast there too. ; and of Nativity and Conception of the Baptist (cf. Though Rome gives three Masses to the Nativity only, Ildefonsus, a Spanish bishop, in 845, alludes to a triple mass on Nativity, Easter, Whitsun, and Transfiguration (P. These Masses, at midnight, dawn, and in die , were mystically connected with aboriginal, Judaic, and Christian dispensations, or (as by St. The second Mass was celebrated by the pope in the " chapel royal" of the Byzantine Court officials on the Palatine, i.e. Anastasia's church, originally called, like the basilica at Constantinople, Anastasis, and like it built at first to reproduce the Jerusalem Anastasis basilica -- and like it, finally, in abandoning the name "Anastasis" for that of the martyr St. The second Mass would therefore be a papal compliment to the imperial church on its patronal feast. The day became a favourite for court ceremonies, and on it, e.g., William of Normandy was crowned at Westminster. Pastores); the latter Church celebrated a second "prophetical" mystery after Tierce, in which Virgil and the Sibyl join with Old Testament prophets in honouring Christ.
29) leaves Him only twenty eight, and one-quarter years of life. the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . ., But they call it the 'Birthday of the Unconquered'. Unfortunately, there is no contemporary evidence for the celebration in the fourth century of Christ's conception on 25 March. Popular merry-making, however, so increased that the "Laws of King Cnut", fabricated c. The three Masses The Gelasian and Gregorian Sacramentaries give three Masses to this feast, and these, with a special and sublime martyrology, and dispensation, if necessary, from abstinence, still mark our usage. Peter's, reproduced in Rome the double Christmas Office mentioned by Etheria (see above) at Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Peter's, and said the third Mass at the high altar of St. At this third Mass Leo III inaugurated, in 800, by the coronation of Charlemagne, the Holy Roman Empire.
Were the day of Christ's birth in the flesh alone there found, it might stand as heading the year of martyrs' spiritual natales ; but 22 February is there wholly out of place. Liturgical colours varied: black, white, red, or (e.g. The Gloria was at first sung only in the first Mass of this day. iv)], but the practice of giving dramatic, or at least spectacular, expression to the incidents of the Nativity early gave rise to more or less liturgical mysteries. The presence of ox and ass is due to a misinterpretation of Isaias i:3 and Habacuc 3:2 ("Itala" version), though they appear in the unique fourth-century "Nativity" discovered in the St. The ass on which Balaam rode in the Reims mystery won for the feast the title Festum Asinorum ( Ducange, op. Prudentius, in the fourth century, is the first (and in that century alone) to hymn the Nativity, for the "Vox clara" ( hymn for Lauds in Advent ) and "Christe Redemptor" ( Vespers and Matins of Christmas) cannot be assigned to Ambrose.
during the consulship of (Augustus) Cæsar and Paulus Our Lord Jesus Christ was born on the eighth before the calends of January (25 December), a Friday, the fourteenth day of the moon. The epact, here XIII, is normally XI; the year is A. Moreover the date given for Christ's death ( duobus Geminis coss. But are not the two entries in the "Depositio Martyrum" also such? The calendar The fixing of this date fixed those too of Circumcision and Presentation ; of Expectation and, perhaps, Annunciation B. Thomas, Summa Theologica III:83:2 ) to the triple "birth" of Christ: in Eternity, in Time, and in the Soul. The three stations are thus accounted for, for by 1143 (cf. Dramatic presentations The history of the dedication of the Oratorium Præsepis in the Liberian basilica, of the relics there kept and their imitations, does not belong to this discussion [cf. The data are well set out by Bonaccorsi (Il Natale, Rome, 1903, ch. (For Virgil and Nativity play and prophecy see authorities in Comparetti, "Virgil in Middles Ages", p. to over-act, dates from Herod's violence in these plays. Francis of Assisi in 1223 originated the crib of today by laicizing a hitherto ecclesiastical custom, henceforward extra-liturgical and popular. Hymns and carols The degeneration of these plays in part occasioned the diffusion of noels, pastorali, and carols, to which was accorded, at times, a quasi-liturgical position.
Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Asia Minor In Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserts against the Alogi (Hær., li, 16, 24 in P. They had a definitely "Nativity" colouring; the bishop proceeded nightly to Bethlehem, returning to Jerusalem for the day celebrations. But this calculation starts from 6 January, and the feast lasted during the octave of that date. But Julius died in 352, and by 385 Cyril had made no change; indeed, Jerome, writing about 411 (in Ezech., P. Besides, Zachary, who, as high-priest, entered the Temple on the Day of Atonement, received therefore announcement of John's conception in September; six months later Christ was conceived, i.e. Finally, though never at Rome, on authority he knows that the census papers of the Holy Family are still there. Kellner puts this visit in 395; Baumstark (Oriens Chr., 1902, 441-446), between 398 and 402. More important, but scarcely better accredited, is Erbes' contention (Zeitschrift f. At Rome, then, the Nativity was celebrated on 25 December before 354; in the East, at Constantinople, not before 379, unless with Erbes, and against Gregory, we recognize it there in 330. Nat., in Civiltæ Cattolica, 1907), following Erbes, argues that Rome took over the Eastern Epiphany, now with a definite Nativity colouring, and, with as increasing number of Eastern Churches, placed it on 25 December; later, both East and West divided their feast, leaving Ephiphany on 6 January, and Nativity on 25 December, respectively, and placing Christmas on 25 December and Epiphany on 6 January. The Gospels Concerning the date of Christ's birth the Gospels give no help; upon their data contradictory arguments are based. 70; late rabbinical tradition says that class 1, Jojarib, was then serving. 749, and that never in seventy turbulent years the weekly succession failed, it is calculated that the eighth class was serving 2-9 October, A. Zacharias sqq.; combining, too, the fact of Christ's death in Nisan with Daniel's prophecy of a three and one-half years' ministry (), he puts the birth in Tisri, i.e. As undesirable is it to connect 25 December with the Eastern (December) feast of Dedication (Jos. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont's epoch-making "Textes et Monuments" etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. Filippo del Torre in 1700 first saw its importance; it is marked, as has been said, without addition in Philocalus' Calendar. The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cyprian, "De pasch. nasceretur Christus." — "O, how wonderfully acted xxyyyk.htm"Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . From this belief of the calends practice of greenery decorations (forbidden by Archbishop Martin of Braga, c. L., LXXIII -- mistletoe was bequeathed by the Druids ) developed the Christmas tree, first definitely mentioned in 1605 at Strasburg, and introduced into France and England in 1840 only, by Princess Helena of Mecklenburg and the Prince Consort respectively. Knecht Ruprecht, at any rate (first found in a mystery of 1668 and condemned in 1680 as a devil ) was only a servant of the Holy Child. In England, Christmas was forbidden by Act of Parliament in 1644; the day was to be a fast and a market day; shops were compelled to be open; plum puddings and mince pies condemned as heathen.
G., XLI, 919, 931) that Christ was born on 6 January and baptized on 8 November. L., XXV, 18), reproves Palestine for keeping Christ's birthday (when He hid Himself) on the Manifestation feast. G., LXXXVIII, 197) that even in the middle of the sixth century Jerusalem was peculiar in combining the two commemorations, arguing from Luke that Christ's baptism day was the anniversary of His birthday. [This appeal to Roman archives is as old as Justin Martyr (Apol., I, 34, 35) and Tertullian (Adv. Julius, in the Cyriline forgeries, is said to have calculated the date from Josephus, on the same unwarranted assumptions about Zachary as did Chrysostom.] Rome, therefore, has observed 25 December long enough to allow of Chrysostom speaking at least in 388 as above (P. Constantinople In 379 or 380 Gregory Nazianzen made himself exarchos of the new feast, i.e. G., XXXVI) were preached on successive days (Usener, op. The latter relies on a letter of Jacob of Edessa quoted by George of Beeltân, asserting that Christmas was brought to Constantinople by Arcadius and Chrysostom from Italy, where, "according to the histories", it had been kept from Apostolic times. Kirchengesch., XXVI, 1905, 20-31) that the feast was brought in by Constantine as early as 330-35. von Jahre 354, Berlin, 1888), compiled in 354, which contains three important entries. Hence, almost universally has it been concluded that the new date reached the East from Rome by way of the Bosphorus during the great anti-Arian revival, and by means of the orthodox champions. The census would have been impossible in winter: a whole population could not then be put in motion. The twenty-four classes of Jewish priests, it is urged, served each a week in the Temple ; Zachary was in the eighth class, Abia. From these untrustworthy data, assuming that Christ was born A. It would be impossible here even to outline the history of solar symbolism and language as applied to God, the Messiah, and Christ in Jewish or Christian canonical, patristic, or devotional works. Comp.", xix, "O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . The mysterious visitor Only with great caution should the mysterious benefactor of Christmas night — Knecht Ruprecht, Pelzmärtel on a wooden horse, St. Nicholas and his "reformed" equivalent, Father Christmas — be ascribed to the stepping of a saint into the shoes of Woden, who, with his wife Berchta, descended on the nights between 25 December and 6 January, on a white horse to bless earth and men. Non-Catholic observances But no doubt aboriginal Christian nuclei attracted pagan accretions. The conservatives resisted; at Canterbury blood was shed; but after the Restoration Dissenters continued to call Yuletide "Fooltide". All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2017 Catholic Online.
Dindorf, 1860, II, 483) quotes an extraordinary semi-Gnostic ceremony at Alexandria in which, on the night of 5-6 January, a cross-stamped Korê was carried in procession round a crypt, to the chant, "Today at this hour Korê gave birth to the Eternal "; John Cassian records in his "Collations" (X, 2 in P. 101) she mentions as high festivals Easter and Epiphany alone. In the West, he says, the feast was thus kept, anothen ; its introduction into Antioch he had always sought, conservatives always resisted. The names of the consuls [which should be Fufius and Rubellius] are wrong; Christ lives thirty-three years; in the genuine Hippolytus, thirty-one; minute data are irrelevant in this discussion with Severian millenniarists; it is incredible that Hippolytus should have known these details when his contemporaries ( Clement, Tertullian, etc.) are, when dealing with the matter, ignorant or silent ; or should, having published them, have remained unquoted (Kellner, op. This pope reigned from May, 352 until 366, except during his years of exile, 355-357. In the West the Council of Saragossa (380) still ignores 25 December (see can. Ammianus Marcellinus (XXI, ii) and Zonaras (Ann., XIII, 11) date a visit of Julian the Apostate to a church at Vienne in Gaul on Epiphany and Nativity respectively. By the time of Jerome and Augustine, the December feast is established, though the latter (Epp., II, liv, 12, in P. Boniface obtained from Pope Zachary their abolition. Besides, it became connected with other usages; in England, a tenant had the right to feed at his lord's expense as long as a wheel, i.e. Greenery Gervase of Tilbury (thirteen century) says that in England grain is exposed on Christmas night to gain fertility from the dew which falls in response to "Rorate Cæli"; the tradition that trees and flowers blossomed on this night is first quoted from an Arab geographer of the tenth century, and extended to England.
The carrying of tapers figures among the marks of respect prescribed to be shown to the highest dignitaries of the Roman Empire in the "Notitia Dignitatum Imperii".
It is highly probable that the candles which were borne from a very early period before the pope or the bishop when he went in procession to the sanctuary, or which attended the transport of the book of the Gospels to the ambo or pulpit from which the deacon read, were nothing more than an adaptation of this secular practice.
We must not forget that most of these adjuncts to worship, like music, lights, perfumes, ablutions, floral decorations, canopies, fans, screens, bells, vestments, etc.
were not identified with any idolatrous cult in particular; they were common to almost all cults.
This theory is best supported by the fact that certain Montanists ( Sozomen, Hist.