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Legendary Days and Holidays

A Reader writes:

I’m listening to the podcast on Buddhist Christmas, and I just wanted to add one thing. Technically, Christmas is not a Christian holiday. It started in Germany from a saint (Nicholas) who gave out presents to orphans. And if you do scientific research, you can figure out that there is no evidence to when Jesus was born. The census from that time wasn’t until the spring and they have no birth record of Jesus. They just have the bible that says people were there. But it doesn’t say when (not that I have found). Just adding my input. Thank you for the podcasts and what you have done.

My response:

There’s not exactly a question there, but I can respond anyway. As far as I know, what you say is true. I don’t know of any Christians who really think December 25th is Jesus’ birthday. There may be some; it doesn’t matter. The best info I’ve heard was that Jesus was actually born in the summer. That theory also makes a load of assumptions, but seems more realistic than December 25th.

Buddha’s birthday is on May 6th in 2014, and it’s celebrated each year by Buddhists around the world. It’s not on the same date every year though, since calendar systems in ancient China don’t match up well to our current, more accurate system. It’s complicated, and the changes in calendar systems over the millennia don’t help clarify the facts. Does it really matter though?

The bottom line is that details like these don’t matter. Buddha didn’t ask us to celebrate his birthday; neither did Jesus for that matter. It’s just a thing we’ve chosen to do out of respect, or the need to celebrate, or something like that. Both these characters have gotten to the point where, despite the facts and truth, have become essentially legendary characters. Facts don’t matter so much with legends; what they said and did is what’s important.

1 comment to Legendary Days and Holidays

  • I forget the exact research – but December 25th was appropriated by the Christian Church because the non-Christians were celebrating on that day anyway (perhaps the winter solstice?). It was easier to start a Christian celebration on the same day and “convert” later.