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Q: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   8 Comments )
Subject: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: tateti-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 31 Dec 2005 00:32 PST
Expires: 30 Jan 2006 00:32 PST
Question ID: 427489
Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year Day)?
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 02 Jan 2006 16:16 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi there

The church does not celebrate Christ's "birthday" on two feasts a week
apart.  However, the feast on Jan.1 is closely related to the
Christmas feast.  So closely, that there may be some confusion for a

The Feast Day of January 1st ( New Years Day ) is the 'Feast of the Circumcision.'

It does fall within what is known as "The Octave of Christmas" - -"For
it hath pleased the Fathers to appoint a holy season from the day of
the Lord's birth to the day of His Circumcision" (P.L., LXXXIII, 880).

Thus, the Catholic and Anglican ( along with a few others ) churches
have two feasts during the Christmas Octave - Christmas Day, which
begins it, and the "Feast of the Circumcision" which ends it.

So, yes, both feasts celebrate the Birth of Christ but only one
celebrates the "birthday" itself.

If I may clarify anything, please ask.

Search - Google
Terms - octave of christmas - feast of circumcision

CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Feast of the Circumcision - you will find a good
history of the feast.


Request for Answer Clarification by tateti-ga on 02 Jan 2006 17:21 PST
Dear digsalot-ga
Thank you for your answer. 
Just wanted to comment that I understand your points, but as a matter
of fact, I think that we *do* celebrate in a certain way Christ
birthday, because:
1- December 25 is, no doubts about that, a celebration of Christ birthday
2- Jan 1 indicates the start of a new year, starting from Christ
birthday!!! That sounds a birthday celebration to me!
I know that there were many syncretism out there, trying to conciliate
different believes... but as a result of that, we are (in my opinion),
celebrating Christ birthday twice...

Regarding the Circumcision... it is known that Jews used to practice
circumcision on the 8th day after birth... 25 + 8 = 2 or 3 (not Jan

Thank you for your answer.

Clarification of Answer by digsalot-ga on 02 Jan 2006 21:24 PST
You are quite welcome.  And I see that some extended conversations
could build around various interpretations of the season.

While the Feast of the Circumcision has always been January 1st, there
is no theological connection between the New Year's Day date and the
church calendar.

In fact, in 567 the Council of Tours abolished January 1 as the
beginning of the year for believing Christians. At various times and
in various places throughout medieval Christian Europe, the new year
was celebrated on Dec. 25, the birth of Jesus; March 1; March 25, the
Feast of the Annunciation; and Easter.

In 1582, the reformed Gregorian calendar restored January 1 as new
year's day. Although most Catholic countries adopted the Gregorian
calendar almost immediately, it was only gradually adopted among
Protestant countries. The British, for example, did not adopt the
reformed calendar until 1752. Until then, the British Empire?and their
American colonies?still celebrated the new year in March.

While your statement "Jan 1 indicates the start of a new year,
starting from Christ birthday!!! That sounds a birthday celebration to
me!" is an excellent sentiment for the season, I am sorry I can
provide no "official" connection between Christmas and January 1st
other than what is included in the Ocative of Christmas.

As you can see from Christian history, the celebration of the New Year
date has varied greatly rather than being tied to any theological
concept of Christmas or the birth.

tateti-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Considering the price I am paying, the effort you made answering my
question exceeded my expectations. Thank you.

Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: nelson-ga on 02 Jan 2006 14:57 PST
No.  We do not celebrate the birth of Jesus on New Year's day.
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: tateti-ga on 02 Jan 2006 17:27 PST
Hi Nelson, I understand your point, but your answer has the same logic
as to say that many people do not celebrate Christmas neither...  My
question was aimed to think about what is behind these so popular
celebrations. We normally do not stop to think about that... Thank you
for your comment.
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: tateti-ga on 03 Jan 2006 01:05 PST
I have given digsalot a 5 star rate, not because I agree with all
his/her comments but because I recognize the effort made to provide a
well-researched answer. My personal view is that, in a sense, we are
celebrating Jesus' birthday twice, but it is also true that many
people celebrate it even not a single time, because for them Christmas
and New Year mean only Santa and / or presents, a new year, and that's
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: pugwashjw65-ga on 03 Jan 2006 19:09 PST
As to whether we SHOULD celebrate Jesus' birthday at all is indicated
by Jesus himself. He never mentioned it, let alone ask us to celebrate
it. Hw always asked that praise ALWAYS be directed to his Father in
heaven, Almighty God. There is a great division here between those who
believe Jesus is the son of God and separate and those who believe
Jesus is God incarnate. For the moment we will stay away from that
one. Simple maths indicate Jesus birthday. He was about
the age of thirty...He preached and taught for three and a half years.
And he was killed on Nisan 14 [ March/April] Easter to some. Jesus was
killed at age 33 1/2. Go back three and a half years from March/April
and you have the months of September/October. Not December 25 or
January 1. Also the shepherds were still tending their flocks in the
field at that time. By December 25, in Jesus' day, the flocks would
have been brought indoors to protect them from the very cold
conditions experienced in Israel even to this day. And finally, Jesus
DID ask us to remember his death. And that is what we SHOULD do.
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: nelson-ga on 03 Jan 2006 23:28 PST
pugwashjw65, I never realized you were Jewish, for who else has a
month called Nisan.  Any timeline of Jesus' life can only be
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: myoarin-ga on 04 Jan 2006 05:50 PST
There is a Pugwashjw-ga who is a frequent commenter with bible references.
The above and interesting posting seems to have a different "handwriting".

I see your point  - finally -  that since we count years from the
presumed birth of Jesus  (a calculation that was made a few hundred
years into the Christian Era), we must be celebrating Jesus's birthday
on New Year's Day.
A fair enough argument, I will admit, but not one that relates to the
Christian religious calendar and the Christian celebration of Jesus's
And, as I pointed out on the duplicate question, we don't celebrate it
with any Christian symbolism (excluding celebration of the
Circumcision), rather more in the style of a Saturnalia.  From the
Free Dictionary:

"1. Saturnalia The ancient Roman seven-day festival of Saturn, which
began on December 17.
2. (used with a sing. verb) A celebration marked by unrestrained
revelry and often licentiousness; an orgy."

Note the date:  also as near the winter solstice as Jan 1st.

Plus Fireworks:
"Fireworks: Noisemaking and fireworks on New Year's eve is believed to
have originated in ancient times, when noise and fire were thought to
dispel evil spirits and bring good luck. The Chinese are credited with
inventing fireworks and use them to spectacular effect in their New
Year's celebrations."

Seems like our New Year's Eve celebrating is a lot of good old
non-Christian tradition, better not even to think of its being
related.  Who knows, maybe the early church chose to keep the dates
separate to avoid all the "carrying-on" that it couldn't supress from
detracting from the solemn celebration of Christ's birth, rather as it
accepts (cannot suppress) Mardi Gras before Lent, a period of
repentence and fasting.
Regards, Myoarin
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: pugwashjw65-ga on 06 Jan 2006 00:03 PST
Hi Nelson, and Myoarin, Nope, not different. Its the same old pugwash
we all love to hate. As to using Nisan 14 as the day of Jesus' death,
it is very specific. Knowledge of the Jewish calendar months is simply
that. Good general knowledge. It does not mean I am Jewish. The
Christian communities EASTER is a close approximation.



The postexilic name of the first Jewish lunar month of the sacred
calendar, corresponding to part of March and part of April. (Ne 2:1;
Es 3:7) This month, first called ?Abib,? was originally considered the
seventh month and is evidently the month referred to at Genesis 8:4.
At the time of the Exodus from Egypt, Jehovah assigned this month to
be ?the first of the months of the year.? (Ex 12:2; 13:4; Nu 33:3)
From then on, a distinction existed between a sacred calendar
instituted by Jehovah and the previous secular calendar.?
.The weather was often quite cool during this spring month, and in
Jerusalem, fires were lit at night to provide warmth. (Joh 18:18) Snow
has even fallen in Jerusalem as late as April 6, as it did in 1949.
Nisan came at about the close of the rainy season, and the latter or
spring rains were counted on to bring the grain to fullness prior to
the harvest. (De 11:14; Ho 6:3; Jer 5:24) At this time of the year the
Jordan River was normally at flood stage. (Jos 3:15; 1Ch 12:15) The
barley harvest began along the coastal plains, and down in the
subtropical Jordan Valley the wheat was reaching maturity. (Ru 1:22;
2:23) About this time, harvested flax on Rahab?s rooftop in Jericho
provided a place for the Israelite spies to hide.?Jos 2:6; 4:19.

Adjusting the Lunar Calendar. God?s command required that the
Israelites offer up a sheaf of the firstfruits of their harvest on the
16th day of Nisan (Abib) and that, on the 50th day thereafter, they
offer up a second grain offering. These offerings corresponded
naturally with the barley and wheat harvests, respectively. This
precept made essential an adjustment in the calendar of lunar months
used by the Israelites. There was need to compensate for the
difference of 11 1/4 days between the full solar year and the shorter
lunar year. Otherwise, within the space of three years, the month of
Nisan would arrive some 33 days earlier in the season and far ahead of
the barley harvest. The Bible record does not specify what method was
originally used by the Israelites to accomplish such coordination, but
the evidence indicates that a 13th month was added every two or three
years to restore the seasons to their proper position in the calendar
year. It seems likely that this was determined by simple observation,
relating the new moon to the vernal, or spring, equinox of the sun,
which comes about March 21 of each year. If the new moon that would
ordinarily mark the start of the month of Nisan (Abib) was too distant
from the time of the spring equinox, then the month was counted as a
13th or intercalary month, and Nisan began with the following new
moon. It was not until the fourth century C.E. that a definitely
standardized calendar was adopted by the Jews.

The first of Nisan?s festivals was the Passover, originally celebrated
in Egypt; it came on the 14th of the month and included the sacrifice
of the paschal lamb. (Ex 12:2-14; Le 23:5; De 16:1) The following day
was the beginning of the week-long Festival of Unfermented Cakes,
running from the 15th to the 21st of the month. On the 16th of Nisan
came the offering of the firstfruits of the barley harvest.?Ex
12:15-20; 23:15; 34:18; Le 23:6-11.

Lord?s Evening Meal Instituted. Over 15 centuries after the Exodus, on
Nisan 14 of the year 33 C.E., Jesus gathered with his 12 apostles in
Jerusalem to celebrate the last valid Passover, and then, having
dismissed the traitorous Judas, he proceeded to institute the memorial
of his death by means of the Lord?s Supper, or Evening Meal. (Mt
26:17-30; 1Co 11:23-25) Before Nisan 14 passed, he died as the Lamb of
God. On Nisan 16, the day the priest at the temple waved the
firstfruits of the barley harvest, Jesus, as the firstfruits of the
resurrection, was raised up to life again.?Lu 23:54?24:7; 1Co 15:20.

In obedience to Christ?s instructions, ?Keep doing this in remembrance
of me,? the 14th day of Nisan continues to be observed by his
followers till this day as the time for memorializing Christ?s
death.?Lu 22:19, 20;
Subject: Re: Do we celebrate Jesus' birthday twice (Christmas and New Year)?
From: myoarin-ga on 06 Jan 2006 15:13 PST
"Its the same old pugwash we all love to hate."
Wrong!  Doesn't the Good Book say:  "Love thy neighbor as thyself"? 
One of the two sermons I remember from my youth pointed out that one
can only love and accept others to the extent that one loves and
accepts oneself, so please don't infer that "we" love to hate Pugwash.
:)  Besides, it's hard to even dislike someone who enjoys sailing, and
good to learn that someone wasn't misusing your name.
But I better not start a theological discussion with you, just to
point out that I respect your views, even if they sometimes go a bit
past my understanding.
The point about the flocks being out at night in your first comment
was very interesting.  I quite agree.  The whole December 25th
orientation is pretty suspect, reeks of replacing winter solstice
celebrations, but I don't want to change that (just burned the candles
on the Christmas tree for the last time).
Cheers, Myoarin

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