Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas
Happy children’s faces, family, love. That’s what these days mean for me. They are central holidays in our calendar. They are “holy days.” So do they have anything to do with the Biblical Christianity?
Halloween is eve of All Saints’ Day, November 1st, in the liturgical calendar. Hence, October 31st is Hallows’ eve. That day in 1517 saw Martin Luther nail 95 theses to the door of All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Many call October 31st Reformation Day. All churches apart from Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox trace their start/renewal to the reforms begun then.
Thanksgiving grew out of similar protestant and Puritan celebrations for fasting and prayer in 17th-century, old and New England. Later, Abraham Lincoln in 1863 proclaimed the last Thursday in November as the national day for “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”
Christmas celebrates Jesus’s birth, December 25th, and its origins are somewhat obscure.
Augustine (354-430), in, On the Trinity, 4.5, suggests that Jesus’ conception was March 25th (exactly nine months prior to Jesus’ birth 12/25). Augustine, Julius Africanus, Hippolytus and others connect that conception with the future day of his Passover suffering. It would not surprise me at all if that was exactly what God did.
Passover is a lunar celebration (the first full moon after the spring equinox). Jews call that date Nisan the 14th. Since Jewish calendars add an extra month every 3 years to stay in line with the solar calendar, that is why Easter falls on different days every year. Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox—the first Sunday after Passover.
God directed Jews to take a lamb into their homes on the 10th of Nisan. They are to keep it 5 days from the start of the 10th to the end of the 14th. As that day was ending, Jews would kill their lamb sometime before sundown.
Jesus is “our Passover lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7). He was taken into Jerusalem on the 10th of Nisan (John 12:1, 12). He remained in Jerusalem from Sunday afternoon (the start of the 10th with the Triumphal entry to his death at 3:00 pm on Friday). He died on the Jewish end of the 14th as the Passover lambs were being sacrificed (John 18:28, 39; 19:14). He rose on the “day after the Sabbath” following Passover—Sunday morning. That was the time for the offering of “firstfruits” (Leviticus 23:10-11). Paul even calls Jesus the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20).
I wonder if all Biblical holidays are related to Jesus. Has God orchestrated all these days to fill our hearts with glee in Christ?