Happy Yule and Christmas to my dear readers!

Father Winter

A portion of this article was originally posted in 2011. Anyone who has read this blog for more than five minutes will know that I am rather skeptical not only of Christianity but of any organized religion.  Still, I love the Christmas season, with its pagan-derived trappings of pine trees decorated with colorful balls and lights, songs of celebration, and the sharing of food and sweets with family and friends.  After all, the week of the Winter Solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years as Yule.  And even if it’s only for a week, it’s lovely to hear people of all religions talk about peace on earth and goodwill to men.

The timing of the celebration of the birth of the Christ on December 25th likely comes from the pre-Christian Roman holiday Sol Invictus celebrating the invincible Sun and the patron saint of Rome and her soldiers which was established in 274 ce.  Christianity was established  as the official religion in Rome in the mid 300s.

Around this time of year people always ask about the astrological meaning of the Star of Bethlehem, and an MSNBC article presents a compelling case for the actual birthdate of Jesus based upon the astronomical Star of Bethlehem:
Historical records and modern-day computer simulations indicate that there was a rare series of planetary groupings, also known as conjunctions, during the years 3 B.C. and 2 B.C.
The show started on the morning of June 12 in 3 B.C., when Venus could be sighted very close to Saturn in the eastern sky. Then there was a spectacular pairing of Venus and Jupiter on Aug. 12 in the constellation Leo, which ancient astrologers associated with the destiny of the Jews.
Between September of 3 B.C. […]
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