Reader Deirdre Hewitt makes an interesting point [about the birth of Christ, December edition], but the actualité is the opposite way round. We do not know the day of Jesus’ birth, and the year is a calculation based on the constellation that produced the “star” in 7 BC along with the confusing attempts to date it in St Luke. In the Northern Hemisphere, there are festivals before and at the time of the Winter Solstice, which acknowledge the death of the old year and express the hope that in the new year the sun will return.
Thus, Christians chose to celebrate Jesus’ Birthday at the time of Natalis Solis Invicti, the Winter Solstice, in Rome and it spread.
The major festival for Christians is always Easter.
Peter HAWKINS, Landaul