WHAT ABOUT THOSE SIX DAYS?

Farag Anjum Kureshi

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So the bell rang and we all packed our bags ready to head towards home when suddenly my friend (with an innocent face) asked me, “Where did those six days go?”.

Me: “What do you mean?”

He “I mean those six days between 25th December(BC) and 1st January(AD). There is no clear account of it anywhere.Where did they go?”

Strange, isn’t it? Stranger is the fact that much of us never gave a thought about it. Well it’s never too late. To begin with, we follow the Gregorian calendar, also called the Western calendar. The calendar was a refinement in 1582 to the Julian calendar amounting to a 0.002% correction in the length of the year. The soul motive behind this was that the Roman Catholic Church considered this steady drift in the date of Easter undesirable since it was tied to the spring equinox.

Let’s talk about the Julian calendar a bit before we come back to the desires of the Roman Church. The Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC was a reform of the Roman calendar. The Julian months were formed by adding ten days to a regular pre-Julian Roman year of 355 days, creating a regular Julian year of 365 days. Two extra days were added to January, August and December, and one extra day was added to April, June, September and November. February was not changed in ordinary years, and so continued to be the traditional 28 days.

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Now since the launch of Gregorian calendar, almost all countries have accepted it. The last European country to adopt the reform was Greece, in 1923.

We all know what BC (Before Christ) and AD (Anno Domini- In the year of our Lord) means. But something strikes me here. If BC is an English abbreviation, then why not AD? The reason being simple that it would mean After Death, i.e., after the death of Jesus. However this would mean that the 33 years commonly associated with the life of Jesus would not be present in either BC or AD time scales!

Most scholars generally assume the year of the birth of Jesus to be around 6–4 BC, though some widen the range to 7–2 Before Christ (was born), but there is no definitive dating. The Gospel of Luke also states that Jesus was “about thirty years old” [Luke 3:23] during the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar [Luke 3:1]. Tiberius began his reign as Caesar in September of AD 14. The 15th year of his reign would then be AD 28 or 29. If Jesus was born in 5 or 4 BC, that would put the start of Jesus’ ministry around age 32 to 34. Most scholars do not see this as a contradiction of Luke’s claim that Jesus was “about thirty years old.” Some scholars rely on John 8:57: “thou are not yet fifty years old”, making the earliest possible year for Jesus’s birth to be 18 BC. Does it mean that before HE was born, HE was born?

Well there are a lot of theories about the birth date of Jesus.

 The most popular one says that the Romans had their mid-winter Saturnalia festival in late December; barbarian peoples of northern and Western Europe kept holidays at similar times. To top it off, in 274 C.E., the Roman emperor Aurelian established a feast of the birth of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), on December 25. Christmas, the argument goes, is really a spin-off from these pagan solar festivals. According to this theory, early Christians deliberately chose these dates to encourage the spread of Christmas and Christianity throughout the Roman world: If Christmas looked like a pagan holiday; more pagans would be open to both the holiday and the God whose birth it celebrated.

Facts to support this theory:

  • First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke: 2:7-8).  Shepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night”
  • Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke: 2:1-4).  Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.

Well now I think I have enough content to answer back to my friend. He was worried about the six days, LOL, now he will be worried as to when to celebrate Christmas!

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