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The student news site of Hawthorne Math and Science Academy

Aviator News

The student news site of Hawthorne Math and Science Academy

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The Many Days of Christmas

While many people celebrated Christmas more than a month ago, some just celebrated the holiday a couple weeks ago on the 7th. The reason? Simply a difference in calendars. But let’s dig a little deeper.

To understand why dates could be different, it’s important to know the backstory of Christmas. Believe it or not, the day as a celebration was created only a thousand years ago, despite Jesus being born far before that. During the days of the Roman Empire, priests were worried that followers of the church would become distracted because of the holidays during the winter season. Specifically, they were worried about the Festival of Saturnalia, the Roman celebration of the seed-sowing god Saturn, and the Winter Solstice. It was known by priests that Jesus was born around this time, although an exact date was unknown and the event was not celebrated. So, to bring people back to the church, Christmas was created to give followers of the church a holiday of their own to celebrate during the winter.

It’s important to note that modern day Christmas looks a little different, as it is a mix of the Christian holiday and the Roman holiday. While many people celebrate Christmas for religious reasons, gift giving, lights, and greenery are attributes of Saturnalia and are a big part of modern-day Christmas, especially for those that are not Christian.

Now knowing the background, what changed the date? Well, prior to the 1500s, the Julian calendar was used. This calendar was quite similar to the one we use now, but was slightly inaccurate. A more correct calendar with fewer leap years was then created: the Gregorian calendar. This new calendar was 13 days ahead of the previous one, so of course celebration dates had to change. The Catholic and Protestant churches had picked up on this new calendar quite quickly, secular governments changing next. But, Eastern Orthodox churches had remained unchanged. They continued to celebrate Christmas on the day they always had, the 7th of January, while other churches went back 13 days to the 25th of December.

To this day, many Eastern Orthodox churches continue to celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January, although some have switched. Specifically, Eastern Orthodox churches began switching to the new calendar date in the 1920s, while churches in Russia, Serbia, and Georgia continue to use the old date. In fact, just recently, Ukraine switched from the previous date of the 7th to the 25th as a show of defiance against Russia. Here in the US, most Eastern Orthodox churches celebrate on the 25th, although smaller churches still stick to the 7th. Knowing this, I hope we can celebrate the holiday season just a little bit longer. While decorations are getting packed up by January first, some people are still putting them to use.

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About the Contributor
Sia Thakor
Sia Thakor, Writer, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Sia is a Senior in HMSA. She has interests in different art forms such as sketching and digital art, and enjoys listening to music, cooking different foods, and consuming a variety of entertainment.

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