Is December 25th the winter solstice?

There is some confusion as to the meaning of the date “December 25th,” with some claiming that is not part of the winter solstice. This contention is erroneous, however.

The reality is that the ancients celebrated winter festivals from the last half of November until the first half of January. The solstice celebrations such as Saturnalia lasted for several days, from the 18th to the 23rd.

In this mix, several ancient cultures viewed the solstice – a word meaning “sun stands still” – as lasting for THREE DAYS. So, for three days they said the sun was doing a “stutter step” on its journey northward (from a geocentric perspective in the northern hemisphere).

Thus, the period of the sun standing still would BEGIN on December 21st at midnight and end on December 24th at midnight, heralding the “birth” of the “new sun” on the next day, December 25th.

As astronomer Dr. Edwin C. Krupp explains:

Solstice means “sun stands still,” but the sun isn’t really still at the winter solstice. It rises and sets the way it does every day. But for a few days at the time of the solstice, the sun’s walk-on is a repeat performance. If you watch the sunrise for several days in a row, both before and after the winter solstice, you notice that the rising point scarcely changes from day to day. This repetitive rising is what inspired the idea of the solstice. Because the sun runs the same race on several successive days in what the ancient Germanic peoples called the “wet,” or winter, season, the event is called the winter solstice; it takes place on or within a day of December 21.

(Krupp, Edwin C. Beyond the Blue Horizon: Myths and Legends of the Sun, Moon, Stars and Planets. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991; 83)

The image of December celebrations from our 2010 Astrotheology Calendar illustrates the abundance of “light festivals” commemorating the winter solstice throughout the month.

December light celebrations

Further Reading

New research exposes hidden relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist

John the Baptist and Jesus’ Birthdays

When Was the First Christmas?

Kirk Cameron Hopes Audiences ‘Throw Both Arms Around Their Christmas Tree’ After Watching ‘Saving Christmas;’ Challenges Pagan Ownership of Holiday

Kirk Cameron Says Pagans Stole Christmas From Christians

Kirk Cameron: Don’t drink the pagan ‘Kool-Aid’ about Christmas, historians ‘don’t know this stuff’

The Christmas Hoax: Jesus is NOT the “Reason for the Season”

Was Horus Born on December 25h of a Virgin?

Dionysus Born on December 25th of a Virgin

Attis Born on December 25th of a Virgin

Mithra the Pagan Christ Born on December 25th

The Truth History of Christmas

 

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  1. If one looks at the sky in this month of December through a program for viewing the night sky, one will see that the three stars of the Orion’s Belt are already “following” Sirius towards the East. The alignment will be perfect on December 25th.

  2. AS, You mentioned somewhere else that John The Baptist was the spring to winter Solstice in contrast to Jesus winter to spring & being that John was 6 months before would make sense but I’m confused on if John the Baptist was a real person since it seems he had more followers than Jesus & Josephus mentions him, stating he died differently than the Gospels account. Some people say there’s was no real Jesus but was probably a Paul & John the Baptist.???

  3. Another reason for the 25th as opposed to the 21st (and this is my own theory), is that it is perhaps the first day that the ancients recognized that the Sun was FINALLY coming up earlier, and setting later.
    “Yay! We are not doomed to eternal darkness after all! The Sun is showing signs of coming back!”
    They never would have noticed this on the 22nd or the 23rd of December.
    And then of course, the early xtian church stole.. uh, co-opted this sacred day of the year and told their followers “Yep! He really WAS born on this day!”.
    Ah, how we peasants are so easily manipulated by our priests…

  4. Regardless of how tge dates line up, the Christians, frustrated with their inability to convert the most steadfast of witches and pagans, began to time their religious celebrations at or near existing pagan festivals, in a “come party with us until our celebrations merge and you’ve lost all sense of identity and purpose.”

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