In three days it is Christmas Day. Of course you know that.
Christmas Day is considered a holy day in the Christian faith, holy because that is the day that the birth of Jesus is celebrated. So it is Jesus’ birth that causes the day to be regarded as holy. You know- the reason for the season.
But what if the date is wrong? Would the day still be holy?
The thinking is that the date of December 25th, one of many suggested and argued about over the centuries, was chosen to coincide with the many non-Christian, pagan festivals that took place around this time. This made it easier for the people to convert, as they were used to observing ritual practice and celebrating around this time. It has been suggested that the actual day that Jesus was born could have been in summer, or autumn, rather than in the depths of winter.
So if, say, December 25th is not the day that Jesus was born on, what about the actual day that he was born on? Is that day, the date long lost to us, nevertheless still holy? Even though we don’t observe it. Is it made so by Jesus’ birth? And would that mean that December 25th is not holy, even though we say it is?
Or is the day made holy, not by the act of the baby being born, but by what we bring to the day? How we regard it, perceive it? What the day stands for in our own perceptions, and how we accordingly act and respond to it?
The town of Bethlehem is considered a holy place as being the birthplace of Jesus. But there is also a train of thought that Jesus wasn’t born there, but rather in Nazareth, the connection to Bethlehem being made for scriptural reasons.
If, for arguments sake, we say that this is true, does that mean that Bethlehem is no longer a holy place? Despite the many pilgrims that visit at this time of year? Or is it the pilgrims that make the place holy, by what they bring to it? An attitude and perception? A faith of heart and mind?
I do not know the answers to the questions about Jesus’ real date and place of birth-there are far more learned people out there who you can find to counsel their opinions, numerous books and articles that you can read which argue the case both for and against.
But if we hold the idea that holiness is determined by how we approach life, by our attitudes, perceptions, outlook and behaviour, and it is what we bring to the day, and to the place,then no matter where we find ourselves in life,
every day is holy, and all ground is sacred.
This is a local tree, situated at the foot of a hill below Alkrington Hall, decorated with what local children have brought to it.