In Christian communities around the world, we are celebrating the birth of Jesus. The countries that house these communities are also celebrating a secular version of this holiday as well. It has been this way from the 4th century AD. The birth of Christ was set on December 25 in the 2nd century AD but early Christians concentrated on the passion and death dates as major celebrations. It wasn’t until Constantine himself converted to Christianity and declared that it would be celebrated throughout the Roman Empire that the birth date of Christ was celebrated. As it reached into various parts of the world, it absorbed prior traditions celebrated at the time of the winter solstice.
The winter solstice since ancient times had been a time to celebrate the longest night of the year and the turning back toward the sun. Many of these practices from bonfires, yule logs, decorated fir trees, the exchange of presents, charitable works, good deeds, to special food preparations, feasts and drinking, songs and stories had been in place long before the time of Constantine and they attached themselves to the celebration of Christ’s birth. The miracle of a savior from the beginning became a celebration in itself of the miracle of birth.
You might say, “how miraculous is a birth of a human being anyway?” After all, one is born every minute somewhere. Well, you can see a graphic of how a statistician arrived at the likelihood of any given person’s being born. Here is what is posted on the blog of the statistician, Dr. Ali Binazir here, the end result of which is just about zero. There are so many variables that two people will produce any given child that the odds that any one of us is alive is a true miracle.
What is likely is that the winter solstice has probably been a conception date if not a birth date for many people through the history of mankind. On the longest night of the year, when the world is cold, making love is a natural act for couples which has resulted in all those late summer births.
Many poets have written important birthday poems. Many celebrate famous people, many more are more general celebrations of individuals written by poets in commemoration of friends and family. Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters are perhaps the most celebrated. Written at the end of his life, these poems are among his best and reveal intimate portraits of his relationship with his deceased wife and fellow poet Sylvia Plath.
In this season of short days, long nights, when we celebrate the birth of a savior with the birth of a baby in a humble place, yet a baby who would shortly be honored by kings, who became the light of the Christian world, my prompt is for you to create a birthday poem inspired by the miracle of birth itself.
Wishing all my fellow poets around the world great joy this time of year, a “happy” or “merry” Christmas and a healthy and prosperous New Year!
- Link the poem on your blog by copying its name from your address line.
- Click on Mr. Linky which will open a Blenza page; fill in your name and
paste the link to your poem.
- Read and comment on your fellow poets’ poems.
- Join the poets in the pub by clicking on the Comments on this page.