Saturday, December 24, 2011

Beyond the Christmas Lights: Christmas in the Early Church (Part 2)

Christmas is a major event in modern America, involving weeks of shopping, lights, caroling and church services. It also is a federal holiday, where millions get off work and are with family every Dec. 25.

So it may come as a surprise to learn that for the early church, Christmas was actually a fairly unimportant holy day eclipsed by other spiritual observances.

“As far as I know the evidence of a celebration of Christmas is late and controversial,” said Professor Timothy E. Gregory of Ohio State University in an interview with The Christian Post.

“To make a complex story short, it is possible that there was some celebration of Christmas as early as the 340s, but this was almost always connected not with the event itself but with dates for the Annunciation and/or the Epiphany.”

Evidence that the church did anything special for the observance of the birth of Jesus predating the fourth century is scant if not totally nonexistent.

Gregory explained that John Chrysostom, an early fifth century bishop, was interested in pinpointing the actual date of the Nativity, but celebrations surrounding the Nativity came later. To read more, click here.

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