Thursday, December 14, 2006
On this day:

The origins of Christmas

Was the decision to celebrate Christ's birth on December 25 merely a pragmatic attempt by the early church to "Christianize" an existing pagan holiday? That seems to be widely accepted as the most likely explanation, but Mark Shea makes a thought-provoking (although speculative) argument that it may actually have been the other way around. Interesting. (Hat tip: Ramesh Ponnuru in the Corner.)

Shea's hypotheses about how Christians may have come up with the date aren't exactly new, by the way. For example, scroll down to the "Origins of Date" section in this Catholic Encyclopedia article (written in 1908) on the history and customs of Christmas .