December 25

Empress Irene of Athens. April 19, 797.

On November 1, 768, a young and beautiful girl from Athens arrived to Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire. At the time she was one of the many applicants to marry Leo IV, future emperor. History nevertheless will remember her as one of the most powerful and controversial Byzantine Empresses, not only for her solo rule and her opposition to her son, but also for stopping, at least for some time, iconoclasm. Irene was unlikely to be chosen as Leo´s future wife for two reasons: first, she came from a noble family from Athens, not from Constantinople´s aristocracy. The second reason, even more significant, was that the Emperor Constantine V fiercely defended iconoclasm, while Irene supported, and possibly also professed veneration of icons. This was a pinp...

Christmas, the Birth of the New Man. December 25.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. Paul the Apostle had a view of the birth of Jesus as a major cosmic event which brought a “new man” who  would undo the damage caused by the fall of the first man, Adam. The Pauline perspective puts an emphasis in the birth of a new man and a new world with the birth of Jesus Christ. The first source stating December 25 as the date of birth of Jesus was Hippolytus of Rome, one of the most important early Christian theologians, assuming that the conception of Jesus took place at the Spring equinox, on March 25, and then added nine months. There is historical evidence that by the middle of the 4th century the Christian churches of...

The Nativity of Christ. December 25.

Around the Third Century, the date of birth of Jesus was the subject of both great interest and great uncertainty. The Nativity of Jesus Christ, narrated by both Mathew and Luke in the New Testament are prominent in gospels and early Christian writers suggested various dates for the anniversary. Around AD 200, Clement of Alexandria wrote: “There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of (the Egyptian month) Pachon (May 20)… Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi (April 20 or 21).” Various factors contributed to the selection of December 25 as a date of celebration: it was the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar;...

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