TABERNACLES (RATHER THAN DECEMBER 25TH) WAS KEPT BY THE MAJORITY MAIN STREAM IN ASIA MINOR FOR 400 YEARS
Polycarp (died circa 156AD) wrote in favor of keeping the Biblical seventh day Sabbath, Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, and the Last Great Day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Second Century Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus was spokesman for the whole of Asia Minor, and indicates his synod of Bishops convened for the purpose of defending the literal celebration of the Hebrew feasts. In his letter to the Roman Bishop Victor, he earnestly defended all the old testament aspects of keeping Passover, including removing leaven out of your house etc. In the letter he names his succession as the 8th Bishop since the Apostle John and his willingness to disobey the external pressures to change the observance of the feast to come in line with Roman pagan festival days. His letter is very telling, and I suggest any get a copy of it. It can be found online, as was copied originally by Eusebius, and is in “The History of the Church, Book V, Chapter XXIV”,Verses 2-7 . Translated by A. Cushman McGiffert. Digireads.com
Publishing, Stilwell (KS), 2005, p. 114). Also see deeper analysis of his synod in Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. Excerpted from The Ante-Nicene Fathers (Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson, editors); American Edition copyright © 1885. Copyright © 2001 Peter Kirby.
The letter made Pope Victor excommunicate him and all Bishops of Asia Minor from the Roman church.
However history demonstrates that the next severalcenturies Asia-Minor continued to follow the Hebrew festivals rather than Rome’s pagan festivals.
Saint Apollinaris, Bishop of Hierapolisalso wrote in favor of the Biblical Hebrew festival dates, rather than theRoman Pagan days.
The 3rd-4th Century Saint and Bishop Methodius of Olympus declared ” …these things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell theresurrection and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth, which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in the new and indissoluble creation, the fruits of the earth having been gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting from the works of creation. …For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, so by a figure in the seventh month…, the great resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles shall be celebrated to the Lord……..” (Methodius. Banquetof the Ten Virgins (Discourse 9, Chapter 1). Translated by William R. Clark.From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 6. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co.,1886.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/062309.htm
Tabernacles being the Biblical day we celebrate Christ’s Birth.
It wasn’t until late in the 4th Century that John Chrysostom, began to make great strides against the public’s observance of the Hebrew feasts(the feasts of YAHWEH). Using mercilous and dishonourable tactics He slanders what is called “the Feasts of YAHWEH” that h eadmits were observed by the whole of Asia Minor, and he calls these mere “jewish festivals”. He wrote several “Homilies against the Jews” where he admits that the majority did not keep the Roman festivals, but kept the the Biblical and Hebrew festivals of YAHWEH.
In 387 at Antioch John Chrysostom dissented,
“…Jews are soon to march upon us one after the other and in quick succession: the feast of Trumpets, the feast of Tabernacles,the fasts. There are many in our ranks who say they think as we do. Yet some of these are going to watch the festivals and others will join the Jews in keeping their feasts and observing their fasts.” (John Chrysostom. Homily I Against the Jews I:5;VI:5;VII:2. Preached at Antioch, Syria in the Fall of 387 AD. Medieval Sourcebook: Saint John Chrysostom(c.347-407) : Eight Homilies Against the Jews. Fordham University. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/chrysostom-jews6.html12/10/05).
He further proclaimed,
“The wicked and unclean fast of the Jews is now at our doors. Thought it is a fast, do not wonder that I have called it unclean…But now that the devil summons your wives to the feast of the Trumpets and they turn aready ear to this call, you do not restrain them. You let them entangle themselves in accusations of ungodliness, you let them be dragged off intolicentious ways.”(John Chrysostom. Homily II Against the Jews I:1; III:4.Preached at Antioch, Syria on Sunday, September 5, 387 A.D.)
“So also the Law fixed the feast of Tabernacles.” (JohnChrysostom. Homily IV Against the Jews IV:3. Catholic Christians of AntiochTurning to Sabbath and The New Moon Day and Other Holy Days. 387 A.D.)
However, as far as all the Holy Days go, John Chrysostom wrote infavor about another “festival of YAHWEH, which he wrongfully has been calling “Jewish days” “:
When, it says, the day of Pentecost was fully come: that is, when at the Pentecost, while about it, in short. For it was essential that the present events likewise should take place during the feast, that those who had witnessed the crucifixion of Christ, might also behold these… And, it says, there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men. The fact of their dwelling there was a sign of piety: that being of so many nations they should have left country, and home, and relations, and be abiding there…for it was Pentecost. (Chrysostom J. The homilies of S. John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople: on the Acts of the Apostles, Volume 1, Homily IV. John Henry Parker, 1851. Original from Harvard University. Digitized, Apr 12, 2008, pp. 53, 55, 56).
John Chrysostom was the first to get the Orthodox in Constantinople to observe Christmas on December 25:
We may take it as certain that the feast of Christ’s Nativity was kept in Rome on 25 December… It was introduced by St. John Chrysostum into Constantinople and definitively adopted in 395 (Thurston. H. Transcribed byRick McCarty. Christian Calendar. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III.Published 1908. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, November 1,1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley,Archbishop of New York).
John Chrysostom admitted Christmas was not part of his church’s tradition in a sermon:
St. Chrysostom in a Christmas sermon, delivered at Antioch in the year 386, says, ” it is not ten years since this day [Christmas Day on December 25] was clearly known to us, but it has been familiar from the beginning to those who dwell in the West.” “The Romans who have celebrated it for a long time, and from ancient tradition, and have transmitted the knowledge of it to us.” (Addis WE, Arnold T. A Catholic Dictionary: Containing Some Account of the Doctrine, Discipline, Rites, Ceremonies, Councils, and Religious Orders of the Catholic Church. Benziger Brothers, 1893. Original from Columbia University, Digitized Sep 15, 2009, p. 178)
Within the First Century and even as we see 4th Century church, they hadn’t yet heard of the December 25th holiday.
Lets take a look about the real day in the Didascalia.
Didacalia, Book VIII. excerpt, Upon Which Days Servants are Not to Work.
XXXIII. “Let them rest on the festival of His birth, because on it the unexpected favour was granted to men, that Jesus Christ, the Logos of God, should be born of the Virgin Mary, for the salvation of the world.”
Didascalia, Book V, XIII. “Brethren, observe the festival days; and first of all the birthday which you are to celebrate on the twenty-fifth of the ninth month; after which let the Epiphany be to you the most honoured, in which the Lord made to you a display of His own Godhead, and let it take place on the sixth of the tenth month; after which the fast of Lent is to be observed by you as containing a memorial of our Lord’s mode of life and legislation. But let this solemnity be observed before the fast of the passover, beginning from the second day of the week, and ending at the day of the preparation. After which solemnities, breaking off your fast, begin the holy week of the passover, fasting in the same all of you with fear and trembling, praying in them for those that are about to perish.”
Within the 1st Century Didascalia it makes reference to the Roman Calendar and that YAHWEH is using the Roman Nobility. For sure it was on the equinox, that corresponds with the Hebrew day of Feast of Tabernacles. The world also celebrates on these days throughout the world without knowing it was the joyful day of His birth. In the Didascalia it specifies celebrating His birth on the 25th of the 9th month to be celebrated. (September 25th is the usual time of Equinox and Fall Feasts as well). The next verse in the Didascalia says to celebrate the EPIPHANY week after. Epiphany meaning manifestation He was the Son of God. (when the Holy Spirit descended in front of everyone, and He was proclaimed to everyone from heaven). That is the official opinion in most church doctrine. The Epiphany was also when the Wise(Magi) came to visit Jesus (Yahshua). The word for his age at their visit indicates he was not an infant but was a young boy, and not just days after his birth when the Magi arrived. So we celebrate His birthday with the Fall Feasts of God. Some say that could mean he was also born on the feast of Trumpets which is sometimes landing on the 25th of September.
The Catholic Encyclopedia freely admits that Christmas on December 25 wasnot celebrated by the early church and that it was Mithra whose birthday was observed anciently on Devember 25th:
Mithraism A pagan religion consisting mainly of the cult of the ancient Indo-Iranian Sun-godMithra…Sunday was kept holy in honour of Mithra, and the sixteenth of each month was sacred to him as mediator. The 25 December was observed as his birthday, the natalis invicti, the rebirth of the winter-sun, unconquered by the rigours of the season (Arendzen. J.P. Transcribed by John Looby. Mithraism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X. Published 1911. NewYork: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, October 1, 1911. Remy Lafort,S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church (Martindale C. Transcribed by Susanti A. Suastika.Christmas. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume III. Copyright © 1908 by Robert Appleton Company. Online Edition Copyright © 2003 by K. Knight. Nihil Obstat, November 1, 1908. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).