According to legend, Jesus was born December 25, two thousand and seven years ago.
In far greater likelihood, he would have been born about two to seven years earlier. Shepherds would be out sometime between February and October. Haley’s comet made an appearance in the summer of 6BCE. For these and various other reasons, therefore, let us say that the best guess would put his birth sometime in September of the year 6 BCE.
Well, celebrating a birth on a day different than the actual day doesn’t really bother me to much. In the United States, it is common practice to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday on the third Monday of January so that it is less disrupting to work and to give workers three day weekends. Same goes for Lincoln and Washington’s birthday. So we, in America, anyway, are quite used to celebrating birthdays at the time of greatest convenience anyway.
Anyway, let us say that legend is wrong, and that Jesus was born about two thousand thirteen years and three months ago. After he was born, legend has it he did some other stuff and then died, giving us another holiday.
The date of Saint Nicolas’s birth is also not know exactly, but he died December 6, 325 A.D.
Just as legend has it that Jesus was resurrected 3 days after his death, Saint Nicolas was likewise resurrected after 3 days, on December 9th. He was not taken bodily into heaven, but instead stayed on earth, and, like Jesus, was granted the gift of eternal life. He dashed up to the north to escape religious prosecution, having acquired a mysterious following of dwarfs and midgets along the way.
Once in Northern Finland, he set up a holy religious shrine, and adapted to Finnish cuisine, growing fat on lutefisk, which he found particularly delightful. Being far up north, not many came to his religious services, and the midgets and dwarfs, having nothing else to do, spent their time going forth and multiplying and making small trinket toys for their many children. Soon there was a surplus of toys, and the good saint gathered the extras around and started making small scale pilgrimages to bring the gifts to Finland’s children. Jesus though it was a cool idea, being a woodworkers son, and bestowed special powers upon the saint to make it possible for him to fly and visit every Christian house throughout the world. Even though Jesus’ birthday got changed to December 25, they both agreed that they could really care less about what day it was, and that the 25th was close enough to the longest night of the year which would make doing the impossible task a little easier.
Upon the good saint’s recommendation, Jesus later gave strength and and a powerful speaking voice, and the Saint gave the gift of a pitchfork, to Saint Urho, who eventually drove all the grasshoppers out of Finland and saved the Finnish wine crop. Miracles are not without their consequences, however, and soon afterward grapes stopped growing in Finland, which is just as well as Santa had begun to drink heavily in his effort to wash down the lutefisk.
Saint Nicholas’ name was changed to Santa Claus through some Finnish thing that I don’t care about, and Santa lives in Finland to this day. (The North Pole is both a rumor and a clever misdirection—the Finnish government knows exactly where Santa lives and is forever grateful to him for helping them stay an independent country despite having lost every damned war they ever fought.)
So children, put this down in your history books—this is the true background of Christmas. Jesus and Santa are still pals, and spend many a night eating lutefisk together and getting hammered on sacramental wine. The midgets and dwarfs, now mutated by inbreeding into a new race called elves, are basically now genetically bred to do nothing but make toys.
Merry Christmas to All. And if you don’t have cookies to leave out for Santa this year, lutefisk and wine work all the better.