Father Pietro Messa, president of the Higher School of Medieval and Franciscan Studies of Rome’s Antonianum Pontifical University is interviewed on the meaning of Christmas.
We know that the early Christians, all of them being of the Jewish religion, observed the Sabbath, but on the following day, that is the present Sunday, they gathered to commemorate the Resurrection. Hence, the first celebration held par excellence was Easter. Subsequently, other events of Jesus’ life began to be celebrated, such as the birth fixed on Dec. 25, namely, on the same day in which previously the Sol invictus was celebrated, that is, the celebration of not being overcome by darkness, given that the winter solstice had passed, the days began to be longer and light imposed itself on the darkness of the night. From celebration they passed to representation and from there to pilgrimages to Bethlehem, the city of David, from whose descent Jesus was born.
Read or download the entire interview at The Many Meanings of Christmas.