Dies Natalis Solis Invicti

Happy Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (birthday of the unconquered sun), your chance to get all your sun worship out of the way for the year.

December 25th marks the fist day the sun starts to measurably ascend in the sky. Celebrations around the time of the winter solstice have been popular for centuries, though the festival of Dies Natalis Solis Invicti was instituted by the Roman Emperor Elagabalus at the beginning of the 3rd century CE.

Saturnalia:

The festival of Saturnalia goes back to 200 BCE. It was a week long festival lasting December 17th to the 23.  Gift giving, merry making (often leading to extreme merry making) and a reversal of the social order, with masters waiting on their slaves, were common traditions.

Christmas:

There is, of course, no mention of a any particular date for the birth of Jesus in any Christian Bible document, the earliest documents having no mention of Jesus’s earthly life at all. And, other dates were used to celebrate his birthday before December 25th was made official by the pope in the 4th century CE (the Orthodox Church still celebrates Christmas on Jan 6th). There is some evidence that early Christians thought the celebration of birthdays to be a strictly pagan custom that they chose not to participate in.

But, there is actually a Christian meme to explain why JC’s birth date should be celebrated on December 25th: the 3rd century Christian historian Sextus Julius Africanus theorized that because Jesus died and was reborn on the spring equinox, then he must have been conceived on the spring equinox as well (sic), and therefore would have been born in December, around the 25th. Sounds to me like he already had December 25th in mind, especially since the average human pregnancy is 38 weeks, which would put the birth closer to December 16th. Christmas was not made an official holiday until the 4th century under Pope Julius the 1st. .

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3 Comments on “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti”


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