What if Christmas *Did* Come from a Pagan Festival?

While traveling on the subway the other day, I overheard an interesting conversation between two strangers.   “Actually,” one person began grumbling, “They don’t know when he was born. I mean, if Christ was so important, you’d think we’d at least know his birthday!” A second person responded with similar cynicism: “And plus, Christmas came from a pagan…

23 September: a Conception, a Caesar and an Equinox

On September 23rd, we commemorate the conception of St. John the Baptist, who paved the way for Christ’s message of salvation. In Orthodox circles, he’s often called the Forerunner, i.e. the precursor, to Christ. Although St. John is a pretty big deal, his conception is prone to falling off our annual radar—it’s not preceded by a fast, it’s not…