The Astrology of Christmas: 336 – 1955
Modern church historians are in agreement that Christ began his ministry during the month of October in 29 A.D. – “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is Near” – during in the 15th year of Emperor Tiberius’ reign. Second Century Christian scholars, such as Irenaeus, said that Jesus “was beginning to be about thirty years of age” [Against Heresies h, II, xxii, 5]. The generally assumed date range for when John the Baptist was active, based on the reference to the reign of Tiberius in Luke 3:1-2, is from about 28-29 A.D., with Jesus beginning to preach shortly thereafter.
This satisfies the statement in Luke 3:23: “And when He began his ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age…” Based on the reference in John 2:13 to the Temple being in its 46th year of construction, scholarly estimates for Jesus’ Temple visit in John 2:20 are around 28-29 A.D. when Jesus was “about thirty years of age.” By working backward from this date, it would appear likely that Jesus was born in 2-3 B.C.E.
The Birth of the King of the Jews and His Star In the East
Herod the Great (74-1 B.C.E.) was a Roman client king of Judea, referred to as the Herodian Kingdom. After the birth of Jesus, some astrologers (magi) from Babylon visited Herod to inquire the whereabouts of “the one having been born king of the Jews”, because they had seen his star in the east (or, according to certain translations, at its rising) and therefore wanted to pay him homage (Matthew 2:1-12). Herod, as King of the Jews, was alarmed at the prospect of a usurper. Herod assembled the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the “Anointed One” was to be born. The astrologers answered, “In Beit-Lechem of Y’hudah,” citing the prophecy of the birth of a Jewish king from Micah 5:2, “because the prophet wrote, ‘And you, Beit-Lechem in the land of Y’hudah, are by no means the least among the rulers of Y’hudah; for from you will come a Ruler who will shepherd my people Isra’el.'” (Matthew 2:4-6)
Herod, therefore, sent the Magi to Bethlehem, instructing them to search for the child and, after they had found him, to “report back to me, so that I too may go and worship him.” However, after they had found Jesus, they were warned in a dream not to report back to Herod. Similarly, Joseph was warned in a dream that Herod intended to kill Jesus, so he and his family fled to Egypt. When Herod realized he had been outwitted, he gave orders to kill all boys of the age of two and under in Bethlehem and its vicinity. Joseph and his family stayed in Egypt until Herod’s death, then moved to Nazareth in Galilee to avoid living under Herod’s son and successor Archelaus.
In 4 B.C.E., around the age of 67-68 years, Herod became very sick with chronic kidney disease complicated by Fourier’s gangrene. Herod’s sons, between whom his kingdom was to be divided, were printing his coins as early as 4 B.C.E. to ensure their succession of rulership in Judea, with Archelaus exercising royal authority during Herod’s final years of rule.
The Year of Jesus’ Birth
The Roman historian Josephus tells us that Herod died after a lunar eclipse before the Passover. Based on the amount of time Herod served after being appointed king by the Romans in 39 B.C.E., serving 37 years (he would not have counted Herod’s partial first year in 39 B.C.E. but would have started his count with 38 B.C.E.) indicates his death occurred in 1 B.CE. According to Josephus, a Lunar Eclipse was observed shortly before Herod’s death followed by a number of events that took place over a ten-week period between the Eclipse and the Passover, including:
- Observed the Total Lunar Eclipse (51 minutes) that was viewable in Jerusalem.
- Part of Herod’s body was putrefied and bred worms.
- He took a trip to warm baths 16 km away.
- He ordered all-important men in all villages to come (120-130 km).
- His son Antipater is executed; Herod dies 5 days later.
- There is a magnificent funeral, and the body is carried 37 km.
- A seven-day period of mourning, followed by a funeral feast.
- Another mourning period is planned and executed for the patriots killed.
- The Passover
A Total Lunar Eclipse took place on January 9th, 1 B.C.E. in Jerusalem. Herod died 17 days later on January 26, 1 B.C.E. at the age of 70 in his 37th year of reign, ten weeks and five days the Passover on April 11, 1 BC.
According to Matthew 2:12, “And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.” Joseph took Mary and Jesus to Egypt following a dream warning them to escape from Herod’s clutches. Only after the death of Herod did they return to Israel and settle in Nazareth. Therefore, Jesus was born before 1 B.C.E., but it is not clear based on Bible sources how soon before the death of Herod that Jesus was born. At any rate, Joesph and Mary and Jesus’ return to Israel would most likely have occurred in the summer of 1 B.C.E.
Eusebius states that Jesus was born in the 42nd year of Octavian. (Octavian was only later proclaimed “Augustus” by the Roman Senate.) Octavian and Marc Antony ruled jointly beginning March 17, 44 B.C.E. shortly after the assassination of Gaius Julius Caesar, Dictator of the Roman Republic, on March 15, 44 B.C.E.. From this date, forty-two years brings us to a date between March of 3 B.C.E. and March of 2 B.C.E.
According to Clement of Alexandria, Jesus was born in the 28th year of Augustus’ rule of Egypt. This has to be dated from the Battle of Actium, a naval engagement between Octavian and the combined forces of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, that occurred on September 2, 31 B.C.E. The Egyptian custom was to count the inaugural year of a ruler’s reign as an accession year, with the next year being “year one.” The Egyptian new year after the battle of Actium fell on August 31, 30 B.C.E. By this reckoning, Augustus’ 28th year as ruler of Egypt would have run from Thot 1 (August 24), 3 B.C.E. to Thot 1 (August 24), 2 B.C.E.
Tertullian and Origen state that Augustus ruled for another 15 full years after Jesus’ birth. Augustus died on August 19, AD 14, which brings us once again to 3–2 B.C.E.
Based on the testimony of Herod’s death according to the Gospel According to Matthew, the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic gospels, and secular historical sources as confirmed by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Africanus, Hippolytus of Rome, Hippolytus of Thebes, Origen, Eusebius, and Epiphanius, we can postulate that Jesus’ birth likely occurred in 3 B.C.E.
The Month of Jesus’ Birth
Taking this further, we can speculate on the month of Jesus’ birth based on the conception story of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5-25). John the Baptist was conceived during the period of time Eighth Course of Abijah, which was May 26 to June 1 in 4 B.C.E. (Leviticus 21:16–23). The human gestation period is about 280 days ― nine months and ten days. Assuming John was conceived between May 26 – June 1, 4 B.C.E., this gives a date of the Annunciation (Jesus was conceived sometime in the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy Luke 1:26, 36) around December 27-January 5, 3 B.C.E.
Based on these assumptions, the birth of John the Baptist occurred around March 10th, 3 B.C.E. with the birth of Jesus occurring six months later in the month of September, during the period of three Jewish pilgrimage feasts:
- Rosh Hashanah: Tishrei 1, AM 3759 = September 10, 3 B.C.E.
- Yom Kippur: Tishrei 10, AM 3759 = September 19, 3 B.C.E.
- Sukkot: Tishrei 16-22, AM 3759 = September 25-October 1, 3 B.C.E.
This would explain why there “There was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7) due to the large numbers of people attending the Fall festivities that would occupy all the vacancies in Jerusalem, including the surrounding villages like Bethlehem, which was only six miles away.
- A birth around the time of Tabernacles would perhaps shed additional light on John’s statement that “the Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us” (Jn 1:14, literal translation).
- August 12, 3 B.C.E.: Jupiter-Venus conjunction in the morning, in the constellation Cancer (the concluding sign of the astrological year). This was the date of the heliacal rising of Jupiter (that is, rising in the morning at the same time the sun does) and on the first day of the new moon, Ellul 1, AM 3758. Note that the Magi claimed, “we have seen his star at its rising” (Mattew 2:2).
- During this period, Jupiter came into conjunction with Regulus, the “royal star,” in the constellation Leo on September 14, 3 B.C.E.
- Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation of Leo and was thought to be very special in regards to Israel, as the Jewish kingdom is often referred to as the ‘Lion of Judah’. The phase the ‘Lion of Judah’ appears in the New Testament Book of Revelation 5:5,” And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” So the conjunction of Jupiter to the Royal Star of Judah would have been of great significance to the Magi.
- September 14, 3 B.C.E.: The Jupiter-Regulus conjunction falls halfway between Rosh Hashanah (September 10/Tishrei 1, AM 3759) and Yom Kippur (September 19/Tishrei 10, AM 3759).
According to Matthew 2:9 “When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.” When the Magi left Herod’s Palace in Jerusalem, the star they were following in the east “stood over” the place where Jesus was to be found. Astronomical calculations reveal Jupiter had stationed and culminated at its highest point in the night sky several hours later on November 26, at 5:10 AM LMT as observed from Jerusalem, it did this at 75 degrees above the southern horizon (209 degrees azimuth), directly over the city of Bethlehem six miles south from the city East Jerusalem.
Matthew 2:10-12 describes the visit of the Magi in this manner: “When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they have come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.”
When the Magi observed that the wandering star – Jupiter – had stopped its movement at its highest point the night-time sky they were able to locate the direction of Jesus. However, the passage does not specify the interval between the birth and the visit. The traditional dates of December 25 and January 6 encourage the assumption that the visit took place during the same winter as the birth, but later traditions varied, with the visit taken as occurring up to two winters later. This maximum interval explained Herod’s command at Matthew 2:16-18 that the Massacre of the Innocents included boys up to two years old.
In a sermon delivered on Christmas, December 25, 380, St. Gregory of Nazianzus in Cappadocia (in modern-day Turkey) referred to the day as “the Theophany” (the appearance of a deity to a human), saying expressly that it is a day commemorating “the holy nativity of Christ.” Then, on January 6 and 7, 381, he preached two more sermons, wherein he declared that the celebration of the birth of Christ and the Visitation of the Magi had already taken place.
Event Charts of Early Christianity:
- Jesus’ Birth – September 11, 3 B.C.E.
- Magi Arrive Bearing Gifts – December 25, 2 B.C.E.
- Herod’s Death – January 26, 1 B.C.E.
- Tiberius Becomes Emperor of Rome – August 19, 14 A.D.
- Jesus Begins His Ministry – October 18, 29 A.D.
- Crucifixion and Death – April 3, 33 A.D.
- Pentecost – May 24, 33 A.D.
- Destruction of the Second Temple and Jerusalem – August 3, 70 A.D.
The First Christmas Celebration by the Early Christian Church
For the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all. The religion’s most significant holidays were Epiphany on January 6, which commemorated the arrival of the Magi after Jesus’ birth, and Easter, which celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. The first Christmas celebration by the early Christian Church occurred 331 years after Christ’s Crucifixion in Jerusalem on April 3rd, 33 A.D. (during the Lunar Eclipse at 5:12 PM LMT) and Pentecost, which is considered to be the inception date of the Roman Catholic Church. In an old list of Roman bishops, compiled in 354 A.D., these words appear for 336 A.D.: “25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae.” Translation: December 25th, Christ born in Bethlehem, Judea.
Pope Julius I, the bishop of Rome (from February 6, 337 to his death in 352), declared the nativity celebration of Christ on December 25th because it coincided with the existing pagan festival honoring Saturn (the Roman God of Agriculture) that began several days before the Winter Solstice.
Horoscope of the First Christmas Celebration – 336 A.D.
Above is the horoscope of the first Christmas celebration that occurred in Rome on December 25th, 336 A.D. during the first Mass upon sunrise at 7:30 AM Local Mean Time. In the First Christmas Celebration event horoscope, we note the placement of the Moon in Pisces. Many Christian symbols for Christ use the astrological symbol for Pisces, the fish. The twelve apostles were called the “fishers of men,” and early Christians called themselves “little fishes,” and a code word for Jesus was the Greek word for fish, “Ikhthus.”
Uranus on Cardinal Axis at 0 Aries
We also note from the First Christmas Celebration horoscope, the ingress of Uranus on the cardinal axis at 0 Aries, and the Neptune-Pluto square alignment, both mundane astrological portents that augur Christianity’s remarkable rise to prominence from a tiny persecuted cult to the established religion that would dominate in the medieval West over the next 1,500 years.
The Neptune-Pluto alignment often coincides with profound historical transformations within the collective, that usher in the seeding of a new cultural worldview that sets in motion the destruction of the old one. During the Neptune-Pluto square alignment during the early 4th century, there was a”changing of the Gods”, as powerful archetypal subterranean forces were unleashed that led to the destruction of the Roman Empire and the death of its Gods, as a nascent underlying matrix emerged based on the metaphysical beliefs and dogma of Christianity that offered spiritual comfort and the prospect of salvation, decreed by the spiritual authority of the Church that would later eclipse Roman authority and rule by the early 5th century.
Precessional Shift into Pisces
Finally, the First Christmas Celebration by the early Church occurred within 40 years of the precessional shift into the sign of Pisces that occurred in the 3rd century in 221 A.D. (based on the Fagan\Bradley Ayanamsa), which was the last year that the Sun last rose in the constellation of Aries in both the tropical and sidereal zodiac at the Spring Equinox. The Edict of Milan, an agreement to treat Christians benevolently within the Roman Empire, occurred in February 312 A.D., a mere 91 years after the precessional shift into the sign of Pisces.
The Celebration of Christmas – From Rome to Constantinople
The celebration of Christmas spread over the next several centuries throughout the Roman Empire, from the Western capital of Rome to the Eastern capital of Constantinople which acted as a gateway between East and West. Christmas was promoted in the Christian East as part of the revival of Nicene Christianity following the death of the pro-Arian Western Roman Emperor Valens at the Battle of Adrianople in 378.
Christmas festivities were introduced in the Eastern Roman Empire at Constantinople in 379, and at Antioch in about 380 A.D. After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 411 A.D., the celebration of Christmas ceased during the remainder of the 5th century. During the Dark Age (500 – 800 A.D.), Christmas Day was overshadowed by the Feast of the Epiphany (January 6th), which focused on the visit of the magi. However, the medieval church calendar was dominated by Christmas-related holidays.
The prominence of Christmas Day increased gradually after Charlemagne was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by the Pope in Rome on Christmas Day in 800 which marked the transition period from the Dark Age (410 – 800) to the Early Middle Age (800-1066).
Also, William the Conqueror, the first King of England, was crowned on Christmas Day 1066, which marked the transition of the Early Middle Age to the High Middle Age (1066-1307).
Christianization of Europe
After the disintegration of the Western Roman Empire in 476 A.D., the Christianization of the Germanic peoples began. Many popular customs associated with Christmas developed independently of the celebration of Jesus’ birth, with many elements having origins in pre-Christian festivals that were celebrated around the winter solstice by pagan populations throughout Europe who were later converted to Christianity from 300-600 A.D.
English historian Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum contains a letter from Pope Gregory I (Pope from September 3rd, 590 to his death in 604) to Saint Mellitus, who was then on his way to England to conduct missionary work among the pagan Anglo-Saxons. Pope Gregory I, suggested that converting heathens would go easier if they were allowed to retain the outward forms of their traditional pagan practices and traditions, while recasting those traditions spiritually towards the Christian God instead of to their pagan “devils”: “to the end that, whilst some gratifications are outwardly permitted them, they may the more easily consent to the inward consolations of the grace of God.”
In 567 the Council of Tours, located in central France, proclaimed that the entire period between Christmas and Epiphany should be considered part of the festive celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus, creating what became known as the twelve days of Christmas.
After Christianity became fully embraced in Northern Europe by the 11th Century, Yule later underwent a Christianised reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide. Christmastide begins upon sunrise on Christmas Day and last 12 days, from December 25th to January 5th, the latter date being named as Twelfth Night, marking the visit of the three Magi to the Christ child in Bethlehem.
Yule, or Yuletide, is an ancient pagan twelve-day festival beginning on the date of the Winter Solstice (marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year). During which time drinking, singing, hunting, and exchanging gifts were celebrated by the Germanic peoples in pre-Christian Europe. The Yuletide custom was the sacrifice and offered up goods and animals (horses too), to the gods in order to conquer the darkness of winter. They then drank a toast the first toast to the Norse God Odin “for victory and power to the king”, the second toast to the god’s Njörðr, and Freyr “for good harvests and for peace”, and the third toast was to be drunk to the King himself. In addition, toasts were drunk to the memory of departed kinsfolk, and to thank each other and the gods for the past year and welcome the new year to come.
Church missionaries from Rome found it convenient to provide a Christian reinterpretation of popular pagan holidays such as Yule and allow the celebrations themselves to go on largely unchanged, versus trying to confront and suppress them. After Christianity became fully embraced in Northern Europe by the 12th Century, Yule later underwent a Christianised reformulation resulting in the term Christmastide. Christmastide begins upon sunrise on Christmas Day and lasts 12 days, from December 25th to January 5th, the latter date being named as Twelfth Night (marking the visit of the three astrologers to the Christ child in Bethlehem).
Many pre-Christian elements of the Yuletide, such as the Yule Log (a specially selected huge block log that was burned on a hearth, lasting for the Twelve Days of Christmas) based on Germanic paganism, that had magical properties (particularly in parts of Northern Spain and Southern France) that became one of the most widespread Christmas traditions in medieval Europe, with the first recording of its appearance dating to 1184.
After Christianity became fully embraced the Yule Log became integrated into Christmas over the centuries. The burning of the Yule Log, the decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of boughs, holly, mistletoe, etc. are all historical practices associated with Yule. The tradition of slaughtering a boar at Christmas (Christmas ham) is probably salient evidence of this. The tradition is derived from the sacrifice of the boar to the god Freyr at the Yule celebrations.
By the High Middle Ages (962 – 1307) Christmas in Europe had become so prominent that many chroniclers of the era routinely noted where various knights, counts, earls, dukes, and territorial princes, and high-level clergy celebrated Christmas. By the late Middle Age (1307 – 1453) King Richard II of England, hosted the first formal Christmas Celebration feast in 1377 in London, at which twenty-eight oxen and three hundred sheep were eaten.
The Yule boar was a common feature of the late medieval Christmas feasts. Also during this period caroling (of and dancing going from house to house) became popular. The caroling group was composed of a lead singer and a ring of dancers that provided the chorus. Various medieval chroniclers of the time condemned caroling as lewd, indicating that “misrule” —drunkenness, promiscuity, gambling—was also an important aspect of the festival.
Christmas during the Renaissance (1453 – 1518) was a public festival that incorporated ivy, holly, and other evergreens along with the Yule log. Gifts were exchanged on Christmas Day between people with legal relationships, such as tenant and landlord. The annual indulgence in eating, dancing, singing, sporting, and card playing escalated particularly in England, and by the 17th century, the Christmas season featured lavish dinners, elaborate masques, and pageants. In 1607, King James I of England insisted that a nativity play to be acted out on Christmas night in the public square in London and that the court indulges in games.
First Christmas Liturgical Chant
Victoria was one of the most significant composers of the Counter-Reformation in Spain, and one of the best-regarded composers of sacred music in the late Renaissance. O Magnum Mysterium is a responsorial Gregorian chant following the 4th Lesson of the II Nocturn of Matins for Christmas Day. Victoria reworked the chant into a contemporary Renaissance motet setting.
et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum,
jacentem in præsepio.
Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt
Portare Dominum Jesum Christum.
Wassail: Yuletide Beverage
Wassail is a hot beverage of mulled punch associated with Yuletide. In England, the ancient custom of Wassailing became popular during the Late Middle Ages. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Historically, the wassail was a hot beverage mulled cider drink made with roasted apples, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and sugar topped with slices of toast. It was served from large bowls, often made of silver or pewter. The medieval Wassail drink mixture was sometimes called ‘Lamb’s Wool’ because the pulp of the roasted apples looked all frothy and a bit like Lambs Wool.
Traditionally, the wassailing is celebrated on Twelfth Night – January 5th, as a reciprocal exchange between the lords and their peasants as a form of recipient-initiated charitable giving. The wassail bowl was carried into a room with great fanfare, a traditional Christmas carol about the drink was sung, followed by the serving of the steaming hot beverage.
Modern wassail recipes begin with a base of wine, fruit juice, or mulled ale, sometimes with brandy or sherry added. Apples or oranges are often added to the mix.
Here we come a-wassailing
among the leaves so green.
Here we come a-wand’ring
so fair to be seen.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the gods bless you, and send you
a Happy New Year,
the gods send you a Happy New Year.
Good master and good mistress,
as you sit beside the fire,
pray think of us poor children
who wander through the mire.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the gods bless you, and send you
a Happy New Year,
the gods send you a Happy New Year.
Bring us out a table fine
and spread it out with cloth;
Bring us out a farmer’s cheese,
and some of your Christmas loaf.
Love and joy come to you,
and to all your wassail, too,
may the gods bless you, and send you
a Happy New Year,
the gods send you a Happy New Year.
Plum Pudding: The Traditional End to a British Christmas Dinner
Christmas pudding originated as a 14th-century porridge called ‘frumenty’ that was made of beef and mutton with raisins, currants, prunes, wines, and spices. By 1595, frumenty was slowly changing into a plum pudding, having been thickened with eggs, breadcrumbs, dried fruit and given more flavor with the addition of beer and spirits. It became the customary Christmas dessert around 1650. In 1714, King George I re-established it as part of the Christmas meal, having tasted and enjoyed Plum Pudding. By the Victorian Era, Christmas Puddings had changed into something similar to the ones that are eaten today.
Today traditional British Christmas Pudding is a make-ahead (about 6 weeks ahead), steamed, fruit-filled dessert which is set alight when served. It is a quintessentially British treat that is steamed (to cook it and reheat it) and then doused with brandy and set alight before serving, which is part of the Christmas tradition. Christmas puddings used to include a silver coin or trinket baked inside. The person who found it would supposedly have good luck come their way.
Eggnog: Christmas Libation in Post-Revolutionary America
In the early days of the United States, celebrating Christmas was considered a British custom and fell out of style following the American Revolution (1775-1783). It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday. However, Eggnog is traditionally consumed throughout the United States from American Thanksgiving through the end of the Christmas season every year. The word eggnog seems to have been an American invention, first appearing in the late 1700s. However, no one is sure where it came from. It may have evolved from nog, an old English name for a variety of strong beer, or from noggin, a small wooden mug used to serve drinks in taverns.
In Britain, the drink was popular mainly among the aristocracy. Those who could get milk and eggs mixed it with brandy, Madeira, or sherry to make a drink similar to modern alcoholic eggnog. The drink crossed the Atlantic to the British colonies during the early 18th century.
George Washington, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, one of the Founding Fathers, and first President of the United States, was a fan of eggnog. Washington had his own eggnog recipe and ordered his servants that it be prepared and served according to his specifications during his Christmas celebration events at his home and plantation at Mount Vernon and during his Presidency (1789-1797).
- 8:00 pm – Guest arrival with eggnog served and dancing
- 10:00 pm – Seated supper
- Midnight – Dancing resumes
- 5:00 am – The last guests leave
The first President’s brew wasn’t eggnog for the fainthearted, given its alcohol content (Note the Mars-Jupiter Conjunction):
George Washington’s Eggnog Recipe
One quart of heavy cream
One quart of milk
One dozen tablespoons sugar
One pint brandy
One dozen eggs
½ pint rye whiskey
½ pint Jamaica rum
¼ pint sherry
Directions: Mix the liquor first, then separate the yolks and whites of eggs, add sugar to beaten yolks, mix well. Add milk and cream, slowly beating. Beat whites of eggs until stiff and fold slowly into mixture. Let sit in a cold place for several (3-5) days before serving. The recipe ends with a congenial “Taste frequently.” Nobody could tell a lie after having a few cups.
Great Britain: The English Christmas Revival
A Christmas Carol is a novella by Charles Dickens (1815 – 1870), first published in London by Chapman & Hall publishing company on December 19th, 1843. The tale of Scrooge’s spiritual redemption since Christmas 1843 has become a defining tale of the Christmas holiday among the 88 English-speaking nations throughout the world.
A Christmas Carol met with instant success and critical acclaim, telling a story of a bitter cold-hearted old miser named Ebeneezer Scrooge and his psycho-spiritual death-rebirth transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the three Ghosts of Christmas (Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) and the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley.
A Christmas Carol opens on a bleak, cold Friday evening on December 22nd in London in 1843, seven years after the death of Ebenezer Scrooge’s business partner, Jacob Marley (on December 24, 1836). Scrooge, 57 years old (born February 7, 1786), is an aging cold-hearted, miserly London-based businessman who loathes Christmas – which he associates with reckless spending. Scrooge refuses a dinner invitation from his nephew Fred—the son of Fan, Scrooge’s dead sister. He then turns away two men who seek a donation from him to provide food and heating for the poor and grudgingly allows his overworked and underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit, Christmas Day off with pay to conform to the social custom.
That night, around 10 pm, Scrooge is visited at home by Marley’s ghost, who for the past seven years has been doomed to wander the Earth, entwined by heavy chains and money boxes forged during a lifetime of rapacious greed, ambition, and self-centeredness, and now regrets ignoring the needs of his fellowmen in life. Marley tells Scrooge that he has a single chance to avoid the same fate: he will be visited by three spirits on three successive nights and must take heed or else be cursed to carry much heavier chains of his own.
Scrooge is awakened at 1 am by the Spirit of Christmas Past, who takes Scrooge to a Christmas from his boyhood, reminding him of a time when he was more innocent and honorable. The scenes reveal Scrooge’s lonely childhood at boarding school, spending Christmas Day in 1798 alone while his schoolmates returned home to loving families, his relationship with his beloved sister Fan on Christmas Day in 1803, and a Christmas party held on Christmas Eve in 1804 hosted by his first employer, Mr. Fezziwig, who treated him like a son.
The spirit then takes Scrooge to a scene on Christmas Eve several years later, in 1813, with Scrooge’s neglected fiancée Belle rejecting his marriage proposal and thus ending their relationship, as she realizes that he will never love her as much as he loves money. Finally, they visit a now happily married Belle during Christmas Eve in 1836, with her large and happy family on the same evening that Jacob Marley passed away. Scrooge had been partners with Marley for 18 years since the two first met in 1818. The spirit implies Scrooge showed little remorse when Marley died, such as taking his house and fortune. Scrooge, upset and distraught by hearing Belle’s sad and pathetic description of the man that he has become since, demands that the ghost removes him from the house.
On the following morning at 1 am, the second spirit, the Spirit of Christmas Present, shows Scrooge’s affairs as they are in the present day and the joy of Christmas. Scrooge and the ghost also visit Fred’s Christmas party, which Scrooge refused an invitation to, playing party games after Christmas dinner. Then the ghost and Scrooge, with Bob Cratchit’s family, feast and introduce his youngest son, Tiny Tim, a happy boy who is seriously ill. The spirit informs Scrooge that Tiny Tim will die unless the course of events changes.
The spirit then takes Scrooge to a nearby clock tower in London shortly before twelve midnight. Scrooge points out that the spirit is now significantly older in appearance. The spirit explains that his time on earth is very brief and that it ends at the stroke of midnight. The spirit then shows Scrooge two repulsive and emaciated destitute children named Ignorance (a boy) and Want (a girl), for whom Scrooge shows concern for their welfare. The spirit warns Scrooge about Ignorance and Want, specifically that they will doom anyone who attempts to ignore them and mocks them. When the clock tower strikes twelve, the Spirit of Christmas Present quickly erodes into a skeleton, turning into dust as it blows away, leaving Scrooge to face the third spirit, the Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come.
The Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come shows Scrooge a Christmas Day in the future. Scrooge witnesses his future death seeing himself in his bed dead. The silent spirit reveals scenes involving the death of a disliked man whose funeral is attended by local businessmen only on condition that lunch is provided. Scrooge’s charwoman, laundress, and the local undertaker steal his possessions to sell to a fence, a person who deals with stolen goods. When he asks the spirit to show a single person who feels emotion over his death, he is only given the pleasure of a poor couple who rejoices that his death gives them more time to put their personal finances in order. When Scrooge asks to see tenderness connected with any death, the ghost shows him Bob Cratchit and his family mourning the death of Tiny Tim.
The spirit then allows Scrooge to see a neglected grave with a tombstone bearing Scrooge’s name. Scrooge is horrified by the prospect of a lonely death and by the implication of subsequent damnation. In desperation, he queries the ghost, “Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,” said Scrooge, “answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?” Still, the Spirit pointed downward to the grave by which it stood. “Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
In an epiphany in which he understands the changes that the visits of the three spirits have wrought in him. Weeping, Scrooge pledges to change his ways, exclaiming, “I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope!… I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”
Upon sunrise on Christmas Day, Scrooge awakens a radically changed man. Who grows overnight from a two-dimension person into one who possesses an emotional depth and considerable regret for lost opportunities in life and whose redemption underscores the humanitarian values of charity, altruism, and the philanthropic interest to improve the welfare and happiness of people. Scrooge, not wasting time, makes a large donation to the charity he rejected the previous day, anonymously sends a large turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner, and spends the afternoon with Fred’s family. The following day, he gives Cratchit an increase in pay, offers a hand in helping his family, and becomes a father figure to Tiny Tim. From then on, Scrooge treats everyone with kindness, generosity, and compassion, embodying the spirit of Christmas.
Note: Tiny Tim was suffering from Type-1 renal tubular acidosis, a treatable illness during Dickens’ lifetime, but fatal if not treated.
The book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs such as Christmas Cards and Christmas Trees. Also, Christmas Carol singing took a new lease of life during this time. Dickens, being perfectly in-tune with British culture, published his story at precisely the right moment (Note: Mars-Jupiter-Neptune Conjunction Dec 1st, 1843), which reflected a widespread bourgeoisie interest and desire to reinvigorate Christmas and its ancient customs. Since 1843, A Christmas Carol remains popular—having never been out of print —and has been adapted many times to film, stage, opera, and other media. (Source: Wikipedia)
The United States: The Globalization of Christmas
On June 26th, 1870, Christmas was formally declared a United States federal holiday. Christmas is the most widely celebrated holiday of the year in the United States, commonly celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike with various traditions.
The first electric lights on a family tree were used in 1894 during the presidency of Grover Cleveland. It was placed in the second floor Oval Room of the White House. The Cleveland Family tree decorated with red, white, and blue electric light bulbs, delighted the president’s young daughters.
In the 20th century during the onset of the Industrial Revolution (circa 1900 during the Uranus-Pluto Opposition), Christmas began to become peak selling season for retailers in the United States, along with many nations around the world. Sales increase dramatically as people purchased gifts, decorations, and supplies to celebrate. In the United States, the “Christmas shopping season” traditionally starts at the commencement of the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade at noon, with the arrival of Santa Claus who always closes out the parade, welcomed into Herald Square in Manhattan. The parade is presented and sponsored by the U.S.-based department store chain Macy’s.
During the Roaring ’20s – a period of dramatic economic expansion and social experimentation – many of Macy’s department store employees were first-generation European immigrants who quickly reached middle-class status and were proud of their new American heritage, and sought to celebrate the American holiday season of Thanksgiving with the type of festival their parents had loved in Europe. The tradition started in 1924 at 9:00 AM in Manhattan, New York (Note Jupiter in Sagittarius rising in the Event Horoscope). With an audience of over 250,000 people, the parade was such a success that Macy’s declared it would become an annual event.
Bing Crosby an American singer and actor who is considered the first multimedia star, as a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and major motion picture grosses from 1931 to 1954, released his Merry Christmas album. Crosby’s Merry Christmas instigated by the enormous popularity of the Irving Berlin song “White Christmas” quickly reached the top of the Billboard Best-selling popular record albums chart in 1945 and remained there for several weeks.
In 1947 Decca Records issued the second edition of Crosby’s Merry Christmas album – catalog Decca A-550, omitting recordings of “Danny Boy” and “Let’s Start the New Year Right” from the previous 1945 release, and including new recordings of “White Christmas” and “Silent Night” from March 19, 1947.
In 1955 Decca released a third and final edition Decca A-550 that includes four additional tracks. This edition of Crosby’s Merry Christmas has a distinct Irish-Catholic flavor thanks to the hymn “Faith of Our Fathers” and the jaunty “Christmas in Killarney.” The Andrew Sisters, often Crosby’s recording partners in the 1940s, are featured on the tracks “Jingle Bells”, the Hawaiian-tinged “Mele Kalikimaka”, and “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”. However, the best tracks are solo Crosby, pouring vocal butter on “Silver Bells,” or “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” and making them unforgettably his own.
Bing Crosby’s Merry Christmas album has sold over 15 million copies and is the second best-selling Christmas album of all-time behind Elvis’ Christmas Album, which has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide. The original 1945 release and subsequent re-releases and re-packages spent a total of 36 weeks at Number #1 on the Billboard pop albums chart.
On September 30, 2014, the album was reissued on a newly remastered LP by Geffen Records and Universal Music Enterprises. This limited edition mono reissue faithfully reproduces the newly designed 1955 LP, right down to the album jacket artwork (which restores the original “Merry Christmas” title) and the period-appropriate black Decca label on the vinyl record.
Hollywood: Miracle on 34th Street
Shortly after World War II, Hollywood began making high budget films that inspired dramatic situations at Christmastime, which soon became an essential part of many families’ holiday traditions, such as the 1947 American Christmas comedy-drama film Miracle on 34th Street. The story takes place between Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day in New York City with the focus of the impact of a portly, joyous, white-bearded man named Kris Kringle who played Santa at Macy’s Department store, who claims to be the real Santa Claus. The film, written and directed by George Seaton and based on a story by Valentine Davies, was premiered in Manhattan New York at the Roxy Theatre on June 4, 1947.
Seventy-two-year-old Edmund Gwenn who played Kris Kringle in the film won an Oscar for his portrayal of Santa Claus. The film won Academy Awards for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Edmund Gwenn), Best Writing, Original Story (Valentine Davies), and Best Writing, Screenplay. The film became a Christmas classic and is still a firm festive holiday favorite in homes seventy years after its release. In 2005, Miracle on 34th Street was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.
The world premiere horoscope of Miracle on 34th Street has Sagittarius on the Ascendant with the Moon rising, with a Sun-Uranus conjunction in Gemini, and highly tenanted Neptune being located at the top of the chart near the Midheaven. Portents that symbolize how this is one of the most original films of its era that has stood the test of time and was able to draw out an impressive level of tongue-in-cheek humor alongside its sentimentality. Much of the delight in the film derives from Santa Claus himself, played by a perfectly casted Edmund Gwenn. The film’s charm is its touching displays of Christmas Magic, such as when he is able to speak Dutch with an orphan girl who knows him to be the real Santa.
The magic of the film is in its ability to make a believer of anyone, as it engages the audience to suspend their beliefs and transcend their beliefs to the realm of the imaginal. The film’s charm also has a certain level of mystery, leaving to the audience as to if Kris Kringle was truly Santa or not while captivating the true of heart and succeeding in its purity to inspire faith, sincerity, and compassion.
MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET QUOTES
- Susan Walker: “I believe, I believe, I believe.”
- Fred Gailey: “Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”
- Kris Kringle: “Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind.”