Christmas is widely celebrated on December the 25th. Also, Christmas is celebrated on January 6th--in those traditions Twelfth Night or the evening of January 5th is the most important date. Christmas is also celebrated on all the days between, so St. Stephen's Day or Boxing Day, Kwanzaa, New Year's Day all fall in the Christmas season according to the older traditions of Christianity. The 28th of December is the Feast of the Innocents or Childermas.
Interestingly enough, in North America, the "Twelve Days of Christmas" are stood on their head and the countdown begins before Christmas...somewhere around December 14th and thus ends on December 25th. I don't find any Christian tradition in Europe that does this. It appears to be an American innovation, like Santa Claus or Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Possibly this is done to clear the way for post-Christmas sales or for New Year's Eve parties?
However, the date or the day of Christmas is determined there's a very clear reason why it falls in the darkest months of the year, near the time of the winter solstice when daylight is in scant supply. The harvest is in; agriculture is idle in the northern hemisphere and the fathers of the early Christian church wanted a festival to supplant/compete with the older festivals that celebrated the renewal of hope and the return of light.
Think about that: the renewal of hope and the return of light. I think these things are universal needs of the human heart.
We don't know the exact date of Christ's birth but from the evidence provided by the Christmas story of his parents going to be registered by the degree of Augustus Caesar, it's likely that their journey would have taken place at a more seasonable time of the year...but maybe not. Palestine is pretty hot and desert-like. When I was growing up in West Texas, December was a pleasant month for playing outside and harsh weather that would make travel difficult was rare. It was a better season for travel or being outdoors than August, that was for sure.
Wouldn't it be funny if the people who grumble about the pagan origins of Christmas were completely wrong?
What if December the 25th or January 5th, or one of the dates in between is the actual birthday of Jesus?
And then when one has savored that thought, one realizes that the best way to "defend Christmas" is to renew hope and seek light all 365 days of the year...366 days if it is Leap Year. It's not in the date or even for one day...it's for our darkest hours that we may rise above them.
This ends the 4th blog of Christmas.
In support of "Happy Holidays" -the 1st blog
The 3rd blog of Christmas