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Why is Christmas Celebrated Mainly at Night?
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 12/23/2013 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 12/24/2013 3:23:33 AM PST by markomalley

O Holy night! Yes, a silent night! and, it came upon a midnight clear. Christmas, it would seem, is a festival of the mid night. Jesus is born when it is dark, dark midnight. We are sure of it. And why not?

Even though we are not told the exact hour of his birth we are sure it must have been night. Scripture does say that the Shepherds who heard the glad tidings were keeping watch over their flock “by night” (cf Luke 2:9). Further the Magi sought him by the light of a star, and stars are seen at night, deep midnight. None of this is evidence that Jesus was born at 11:59 PM, but it sets our clocks for night, deep midnight.

Add to this the fact that Christmas is celebrated at the Winter solstice, the very darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. More specifically Christmas breaks in on the very days that the light begins its subtle return. The darkest and shortest days of the year make their impression on December 21 and 22. But by December 23 and 24 we notice a definite, but subtle trend, the days are getting longer, the light is returning! Time to celebrate the return of the light, it is going to be alright!

How fitting now, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the true Light of the World, in a deep and dark December. Jesus our light, kindles a light and a fire that never dies away. Indeed, in the dark hours of December, we have noticed a trend. The light is returning, the darkness is abating, the days are growing longer from here on out. It is subtle now! But it will grow. And with the return of light, we celebrate our True Light: Jesus.

But light is best appreciated in contrast. We think most, and appreciate most, the glory of light when the darkness assails. There’s just something about Christmas Eve. As the time approaches through December, and the darkness grows, we light lights. Yes, all through December as the darkness grows, we light Advent candles, more as it grows darkest! Even the secular among us string lights in dark December, in malls, on their houses, as if to say, the darkness cannot win, the light conquers!

And lights have their true glory in contrast the darkness. Who sees the stars in mid day? And who appreciates the beauty of light until they have experienced the darkness? Yes, Christmas is a feast of the light. We confront the darkness of December and declare to it: “Your deepest days are over, the light is returning.” And for us of faith, we say to a world in ever deeper darkness, “Your darkness cannot remain. It wil be overcome and replaced.” For though darkness has its season, it is always conquered by the light.

An atheist recently scoffed at me on the com box of this blog that our day is over, the world has rejected faith… Sorry dear Atheist friend, the light always wins. On December 22, the darkness recedes, the light returns and all darkness is scattered. It seems subtle at first, but the light always returns, the darkness cannot last.

Light has a way of simply replacing the darkness. In three months the equinox (equal night and day) occurs, and in six months the summer solstice (the longest day) comes. And the darkness will once again seek to conquer. BUT IT ALWAYS LOSES. The light will return. Jesus is always born at the hour of darkness’ greatest moment. Just when the darkness is celebrating most, it’s hour is over, the light dawns again.

Yes we celebrate after sundown on December 24, in accord with a tradition going back to Jewish times that our Feasts begin at sundown the night before.  Christmas morning is almost an afterthought. Most pastors know, the majority of their people have come the “night” before.  In a deep and dark December, a light comes forth, a star, shines in the heavens.

We gather, in and on a dark night. We smile. We are moved by the cry of a small infant, by whose voice the heavens were made. His little cry lights up the night. The darkness must go, the light has come, day is at hand.

Yes, we celebrate at night to bid farewell to the darkness. It cannot prevail. It is destined to be scattered by the Light far more powerful than it, a Light it must obey, a Light that overwhelms and replaces it. Farewell to darkness, the Light of the World has come.

Jesus the light of the world.

The video below is a celebration of light. As a Christmas gift to myself on December 22nd, the darkest day of the year, I took an afternoon off and went to photograph the triumph of light over darkness. I went to a Mausoleum, Yes, to a place where thousands are buried in the walls. But also in those walls are windows, glorious windows where light breaks through, and Christ shines forth. Some of the most beautiful stained glass in the city of Washington resides in that place of death and darkness. The light breaks through and it speaks of Christ.

This video is a testimony to just some of those windows (I am putting together another video of other windows to be shown later). In this place, a place of death, a light breaks through, the light of faith, the Light of Christ. The text of the music in this video is from Taize, and it says, Christe lux mundi, qui sequitur te, habebit lumen vitae, lumen vitae (Christ, Light of the World! Who follows you has the light of life, the light of life).

As you view this video of the Life of Christ, ponder that stained glass begins as opaque sand. But when subject to, and purified by the fire, it radiates the glory of light which can now shine through it. So it is for us. Born in darkness, but purified by Christ and the Fire of the Spirit, we begin to radiate his many splendored Light shining through us, to a dark world.

The Light wins, He always wins.

TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: christmas; light; msgrcharlespope; night; nighttime; wintersolstice
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1 posted on 12/24/2013 3:23:33 AM PST by markomalley
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To: Biggirl; ConorMacNessa; Heart-Rest; Mrs. Don-o; Nervous Tick; RoadGumby; Salvation; NYer; ...
Msgr Pope ping!

A Fröhliche Weihnachten und ein Glückliches Neues Jahr, Buon Natale e Felice Anno Nuovo to all!

2 posted on 12/24/2013 3:26:22 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley

Jesus has always been the light of my life. Always, when things were so dismal, and so down low, I always call out to Him, and eventually, things always got better. I have every hope that He will shine His light and guide me home one day ...and do the same for all my loved ones.

Merry Christmas to all Freepers, and ALL who are guided by the Light and love of Christ this year!!

3 posted on 12/24/2013 3:48:14 AM PST by LibsRJerks
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To: markomalley

This is why I use midnight blue candles at home and not purple because I remember the long, darkest nights of the year. Also of all the suffering I had been through myself.

Jesus is truly the LIGHT of the world!

4 posted on 12/24/2013 3:51:15 AM PST by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: markomalley

Joyux Noel!

5 posted on 12/24/2013 3:52:09 AM PST by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: All

To ALL the FRpers, Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas in different languages:

6 posted on 12/24/2013 3:56:50 AM PST by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: markomalley

Because you can’t see the Christmas lights on all the houses in the daytime........

7 posted on 12/24/2013 3:58:12 AM PST by Hot Tabasco (Miss Muffit suffered from arachnophobia.....)
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To: markomalley
we are sure it must have been night.

How else could the three wise men be guided by a star?

8 posted on 12/24/2013 4:05:44 AM PST by grobdriver
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To: markomalley
cuz days are short and it's dark about 4:40...

Say they were traveling at approx. 5 mph with 2 stops for food...they only traveled about 50 miles.

So it might have been 6 PM...

9 posted on 12/24/2013 4:25:45 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: grobdriver

The reality is the star is/was always’s not like it suddenly appeared.

10 posted on 12/24/2013 4:29:11 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: markomalley

Barbara Walters: Thought Obama Would be the “Next Messiah”

December 18, 2013 by Lennie Jarratt

Barbara Walters on Piers Morgan when asked about why Obama is struggling so much, “We thought that he was going to be – I shouldn’t say this at Christmastime – but the next messiah.”


11 posted on 12/24/2013 5:03:20 AM PST by KeyLargo
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To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...

Christ is born, ping!

12 posted on 12/24/2013 5:06:10 AM PST by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: NYer

Christ is BORN, give HIM GLORY!

13 posted on 12/24/2013 5:20:55 AM PST by Biggirl (“Go, do not be afraid, and serve”-Pope Francis)
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To: LibsRJerks

Good post for Christmas bump. Merry Christmas!

14 posted on 12/24/2013 5:37:01 AM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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To: Sacajaweau

It’s unfortunate we can’t know what that star was, so we could maybe calculate it’s distance from us, and therefore it’s age, etc. it could prove interesting to do such an analysis.

Perhaps it was some supernova not seen elsewhere for its brevity. Although I don’t know of any supernova that would be so short in duration. Or maybe some other civilization saw it but didn’t record it for some reason.

Most likely it’s another miracle akin to the sun stopping in the sky (hence the earth’s rotation stopping) as is spoken of elsewhere in Scripture (and of course at Fatima). These events certainly aren’t recorded worldwide so they are, for whatever reason, chosen by God to only appear to those He has chosen to witness them, for what reason remains ultimately a mystery.

15 posted on 12/24/2013 5:46:05 AM PST by FourtySeven (47)
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To: markomalley

The older I get, the less I celebrate Christmas on December 25th. I do thank God for Jesus death and resurrection daily, however.

Night? Maybe it’s because the time of year our culture chooses to celebrate his birth is also the time of year when the days are shortest. I, personally, never saw it as a nightime celebration. When I was a kid we celebrated Christmas on Christmas day and Christmas eve. During the day it was light out and at Christmas eve it was dark because we didn’t celebrate until dad got home from work.

16 posted on 12/24/2013 5:47:54 AM PST by cuban leaf
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To: markomalley

Where did “Santa” come from ??
by L.J.Keslin
The development of “Santa Claus” grew out of the New York Dutch settlers observance of “Sinte Kleaus” (St Nicholas) day December 6th. Which was the date the Dutch settlers, remnants of Netherland colonization in New York, exchanged small gifts. For in some areas of the Netherlands it was done by filling wooden shoes set outside the front door with sweets . Instead of wooden shoes these New Yorkers personally exchanged small gifts in observance of St Nicholas day. For 4th century “Saint t Nick” who lived in what is todays Turkey while famed for his distribution of gifts to poor children was also the patron saint of sailors and seamen which is probably why the seafaring Dutch observed his feast day...

As narratives of the custom developed . One poem primarily attributed to Charles Moore in 1846 “Twas the night before Christmas” changed the way Americans gave gifts during Christmas time. The character some spelled “sinter Klaus was depicted as a defrocked “Santa Claus” with his bishop’s miter a elongated double peaked hat worn by bishops. That was transformed by illustrators of the day into a white tasseled fur trimmed floppy cone shaped red stocking cap. Critics of the Moore poem contended it was done to reduce the religious connotation to a Catholic saint/ bishop. Beside the changes in his chapeau in the Moore poem he became a fat roll-ly poll-ly sitting in on a sleigh full of toys driven by eight reindeer. Two with Dutch names which translated into thunder and lightning hence furthur substantiating the Dutch origin.

The legend was later embelished by others as Santa with helper elves comming from the north pole delivering gifts worldwide along with Rudolph. Another later commercial introduction.But the poem popularized changing the date from December 6th “St Nick’s” day, to the giving of gifts exclusive to Christmas eve or day. Rather than using the observance of the 12 days of Christmas and the feast of the “Three Kings” who offered gifts to The Christ Child as the day to do so which was being done by many at the time..

Elsewhere in many countries it’s the feast of the Epiphany January 6th ( the 12 day of Christmas) is when gifts are exchanged.. But the feast of Epiphany which used to appear on American calendars no longer does so. The reason for it probably developed from the Vatican II decision when the Roman Catholic American Council of Catholic Bishops diminished its importance with the Novus Ordo which reduced the importance of attending services on many feast days known as “holy days of obligation”. When they changed its titular weekday observance of Epiphany to the Sunday following New Years (Presentation formerly known as Circumsicion). references to Epiphany on American calendars disappeared.

Today the date, January 6th, is no longer marked Epiphany in most American calendars..But it is still observed by Orthodox Christian rites as well as Eastern Catholic traditions including most hispanic Roman Catholics. Observing the 12 days many are finding decreases the hectic pace of attempting to get everything done on one day and allows the religious aspects of the season a reflective aspect to set in as well. ..

..note some material included in this report came from wkipedia

17 posted on 12/24/2013 6:11:51 AM PST by mosesdapoet (Serious contribution pause.Please continue onto meaningless venting no one reads.)
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To: markomalley; LibsRJerks; Biggirl
Here's the video Msgr. Pope made of the stained glass windown --- the one he referenced at the end of his article. It has a Taize hymn to Christ the Light in the background. Very nice!

Glory to the Newborn King!

18 posted on 12/24/2013 6:35:14 AM PST by Mrs. Don-o (When the heart is pure, it can't help loving, because it has found the source of love, which is God.)
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To: Mrs. Don-o

Indeed very beautiful

19 posted on 12/24/2013 7:47:13 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Biggirl

20 posted on 12/24/2013 7:58:38 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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