December 21st marked the first day of Winter, characterized by being the shortest day of the year. The days don’t immediately start getting longer again, however. We stay “in the dark” for three days after. On the 25th is the first day when the days actually start getting longer, if memory serves.
Tracking celestial movements and goings-on is an age-old practice. There was a belief, still held today by some, which says that “as above, so below.” The idea is that what happens in the heavens plays a role in what goes on down here. There is some validity to that, as anyone who has worked in a hospital during a full moon can tell you.
Thus, it is no surprise that when looking to celebrate the birth of the man that was esteemed to be the Son of God, the “bringer of light,” they chose to celebrate it on the day that the Sun returns from the “grave,” much as Jesus did. On that day, every year, the downward slide into darkness (the plot against Jesus) culminates in a period of maximum darkness (his death), lasting for three days, followed by a return (his resurrection). The parallels are clear!
Admittedly, Jesus was not actually born on December 25th. But we choose to celebrate his birth on that day, so that the heavens can join us in that celebration. So as you are opening your gifts, and making merry, and as you ponder the joy of the season, remember that even the sun in the sky is playing a part in our celebration of the Son.