Winter Solstice and Christmas

titmouse 774Today is the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.  Over the ages people have celebrated the winter solstice because it indicated that more light would soon be returning and that darkness would not prevail.  It is not without reason that we celebrate Christmas at approximately the same time.  In reality, we have no idea what time of the year Jesus was actually born.  Some speculate that a spring date is more likely.  Still, the church chose to celebrate Christ’s birth on December 25, in essence, to “Christianize” a pagan holiday.

The tying of the winter solstice and Christmas makes sense theologically.  Jesus told us that he was the “light of the world.”  Furthermore, John wrote concerning Jesus, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)  

Just as the winter solstice was a hopeful holiday, so is Christmas.  We know that because Jesus came there is cause for hope.  As Rob indicated in his recent blog, many people today tend to be pessimistic and down on the world.  Because of Christmas we know that God is with us here and now and that darkness does not have the last word.  This is cause to celebrate!

Although most Christians tend to refer to those who celebrated the winter solstice as “pagans,” I have to admit that I find myself admiring them for their sensitivity to the changing seasons and the return of light.  If we hope to see God in His Creation it will help us if we, too, will be more sensitive and in tune to the rhythms and patterns of nature.  As the days begin to lengthen in the coming weeks, remember to give thanks that long ago God sent His Son to conquer the darkness that we find in the world and within our souls.  In fact, today—being the winter solstice—would be a good time to begin doing just that.


(This past Friday, the last weekend of autumn, we were hit with a “winter” storm here in Pikeville.  This caused the birds, like this titmouse, to come calling at our birdfeeder.)