“A very general observance required that on the 25th of December the birth of the ‘new Sun’ should be celebrated, when after the winter solstice the days began to lengthen and the ‘invincible’ star triumphed again over darkness. It is certain that the date of this Natalis Invicti was selected by the Church as the com- memoration of the Nativity of Jesus, which was previously confused with the Epiphany. In appointing this day, universally marked by pious rejoicings, which were as far as possible retained,—for instance the old chariot races were preserved,—the ecclesiastical authorities purified in some degree the customs which they could not abolish. This substitution, which took place at Rome probably between 354 and 360, was adopted throughout the Empire, and that is why we still celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December.
“The pre-eminence assigned to the dies Solis also certainly [p. 90] contributed to the general recognition of Sunday as a holiday. This is connected with a more important fact, namely, the adoption of the week by all European nations.”— Franz Cumont, Astrology and Religion Among the Greeks and Romans (reprint; New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1960), 89-90.
Christmas, Easter, and Halloween
by Vance Ferrell