When Is Fiction Stranger Than Truth?
If you were with us last week my storyline was about cleaning the world and about getting things off my "to do" list. One particular task was given me by a guy at the gym to find out why certain holidays such as Easter and Christmas are celebrated on particular dates and who does the choosing.
Well, I asked Bubba to get in on this one, and he was disappointed to tell me he had a real estate closing that took him to the wall of Friday afternoon and would not be able to give the topic the comprehensive threshing it would require of him until next week. I will offer a "readers digest" version of an answer to be followed by Bubba's more detailed response.
The other thing this story implies is what I remind people (and my children) that everything with me is on the record. Carey was really surprised when his topic hit the column last week but assured me if my answers were satisfactory about the two holidays in question I would be off the hook for explaining why the fourth of July is celebrated when it is.
At this point my car is even clean which is alarming to the point that while you are reading why we celebrate the birth of Jesus on a particular date with one eye, you should be looking skyward with the other eye to see if he is on the way back.
With respect to Christmas being on Dec. 25, much of it apparently has to do with the decision to observe it then by the emperor Constantine.
Constantine's wife Fausta was a bit of a whiner when it came to shopping the sales around the pagan festivals celebrating the sun which were celebrated on Dec. 25. Church leaders had argued whether the purported Jan. 6 arrival of the Magi should have been the better date rather than Dec. 25. They ultimately hijacked the Dec. 25 date from the pagans and decided to emulate the customs of the Magi and the lights, greenery and Teutonic feasts.
Fausta was merciless when it came to getting her way and insisted to her husband that after the invention of the keystone markup and the relentless marketing campaigns of the Venetians everybody needed a breather for a few days after the 25th before the really good sales started right before New Year's. Plus if there was any spare change left over the tax sales on chariots were always good around then.
Constantine yielded because he wanted to stick around the empire for a few months and there were no promising campaigns on the horizon.
Pope Gregory really threw a wrench in things when he had to invent a new (Gregorian) calendar which caused the followers of the Julian calendar to be celebrating the whole thing 13 days later until the first secret meeting of the Illuminati was held to unify the worldwide recognition of Christmas on the 25th of December so the shops in Paris and London could coordinate the timing of their shipments from the Orient and make all their shoppers happy.
Oddly, Constantine and Pope Gregory were indirectly involved in the same drama around when we celebrate Easter. Both of these guys must have been math geniuses because it has to do with calculating moon phase and leap years all at once. The algorithms they created are still used today by the IRS to produce the United States tax code. It reminds me a great deal of the explanation given by John Candy in the movie "Stripes" to his bunkmate on why he had to sleep on the bottom bunk.
My research gave me the following bit of information to further illustrate the point:
The usual statement, that Easter Day is the first Sunday after the full moon that occurs next after the vernal equinox, is not a precise statement of the actual ecclesiastical rules. The full moon involved is not the astronomical full moon but an ecclesiastical moon (determined from tables) that keeps, more or less, in step with the astronomical moon.
The ecclesiastical rules are:
• Easter falls on the first Sunday following the first ecclesiastical full moon that occurs on or after the day of the vernal equinox;
• This particular ecclesiastical full moon is the 14th day of a tabular lunation (new moon); and the vernal equinox is fixed as March 21.
• Resulting in that Easter can never occur before March 22 or later than April 25.
• Church of the Epiphany newsletter, San Francisco
• This should go a long way in helping Carey understand why we have to pay our taxes on April 15.