Fr John Slays all the Secular Myths about Christmas

The other day, I had the honor to cohost Fr John Peck’s Ecclesioclasm podcast.*  That particular episode dealt with all of the silly –but pervasive–myths that have been peddled about Christmas (and Christianity) for decades now.  

You know the ones:  Jesus wasn’t born on December 25, Christmas was really a pagan holiday, Constantine created the office of bishop, Yule logs are pagan remnants, Mithras (pictured above) was the template for Jesus, and so on and so forth.

Hogwash.  Utter and complete hogwash.  And Fr John destroys them with alacrity in a lively and entertaining fashion.  It’s a veritable one-stop apologitic shop, full of all the materiel a Christian needs to dispatch the local Village Atheist at the water cooler or the dinner table.  

Please take the time to watch the episode below to see Fr John in action.  You will be enlightened.  In the meantime, Gail and I wish you all a merry (NC) Christmas and a happy New Year!  Try not to eat too much!

*I ran a little late and the lighting wasn’t to my satisfaction but don’t let that stop you, Fr John on the other hand, was on fire.  


  1. Let’s just be clear, the early Christians did not typically celebrate the nativity of Christ. The true Feast of Feasts and Festival of Festivals was the Resurrection of Christ. THIS is the starting point.

    In the Jewish tradition, to live a “perfect” life, a person died on the same day they were conceived. Jesus being the son of God, and thus perfect, died on the 14th of Nissan, which is equivalent today’s calendar of being March 25th. Again, since Jesus was perfect, the Theotokos had a perfect pregnancy of nine months. Therefore, nine months after March 25th is December 25th, and thus, this is how the date of Christ’s Nativity was determined to be celebrated liturgically.

    If you look at the Theotokos, the Orthodox Church celebrates her Nativity on September 8th but her conception is liturgically celebrated on December 9th (one day shy of a perfect 9 months).
    If you look at St. John the Baptist, the Orthodox Church celebrates his Nativity on June 24th but his conception is liturgically celebrated on September 23rd (one day over a perfect 9 months).
    This was done to show that God alone is perfect. Not even the Theotokos was perfect.

    • With respect, they did celebrate the Nativity of Christ. Hippolytus Rome and Theophilus of Caesarea explicitly state that the day of Christ’s birth was on December 25th. And Theophilus specifically says that it ought be celebrated.

      “We ought to celebrate the birthday of our Lord on what day soever the 25th of December shall happen.” – Theophilus, Magdeburgenses, de orign Festorum Chirstianorum

      “For the first advent of our Lord in the flesh, when he was born in Bethlehem, was December 25th, a Wednesday, while Augustus was in his forty-second year, but from Adam, five thousand and five hundred years. He suffered in the thirty-third year, March 25th, Friday, the eighteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, while Rufus and Roubellion were Consuls.” – Hippolytus, Commentary on Daniel 4.23.3

      This doesn’t mean is was more important than Pascha, but they did indeed celebrate it, according to the patristic writings. Maybe watch the video again, or the parts you missed. Just sayin’.

      • George Michalopulos says

        Thanks for the clarification, Fr.

        • George Michalopulos says

          I must say, that I’m fascinated by the speculation about the relative gestation periods of Anna, Elizabeth and Mary. Truth be told, I had not known the intricacies about the 24 priestly courses. Since then, I had downloaded a pdf (written from a Jewish source) about this phenomenon.

          All I can say is “fascinating!”

          • Joseph Lipper says

            Orthodox Christians celebrate the Conception by St. Anna of the Most Holy Theotokos on December 9th, while the Roman Catholics celebrate the “Immaculate Conception” a day earlier, on December 8th.

            Both the Orthodox and Roman Catholics celebrate her Nativity on September 8th. So her gestation is nine months minus one day for the Orthodox, but for Roman Catholics it’s exactly nine months, like Christ. I’m guessing the Roman Catholics changed the day of her conception to accommodate their weird papal dogma. The papal dogma of the “Immaculate Conception” was announced on December 8th, 1854.

            • George Michalopulos says

              Joseph, I must agree with you hear. We Orthodox, who view Mary as Theotokos and ever-virgin do not have the same view about her conception as the RCs do, mainly because we don’t hold to the concept of “Original Sin” but “Ancestral Sin” instead.

              In RC eyes, Mary had to be free of the taint of Original Sin in order to be the vessel for the birth of the only sinless man (Jesus Christ). Of course, this leads them to the fallacy of infinite regress, which St Thomas Aquinas saw hundreds of years earlier when the concept of the Immaculate Conception started floating around during the High Middle Ages: that is to say, if Mary had to be immaculately conceived (i.e. free of the taint of Original Sin), then so should each and every one of her ancestors. Given the fact that the Birth Narratives of Matthew and Luke point out that several of her ancestresses were clearly sinful women (i.e. Tamar, Rahab, Bathsheba, Ruth) that remains an impossibility.

              Thank you for pointing the discrepancies in the dates of her conception between our Church and Catholicism. If anything, it solidifies in my mind the original observations that Linda made on this thread. Which, as I said, together with the knowledge of the 24 priestly courses lends further evidence to the historicity of the claims of Christianity regarding a whole host of our beliefs.

            • The Catholic Encyclopedia confirms that the original date of the Feast in the Eastern parts of the Church was December 9 (which would make the Theotokos’s own gestation period 9 months minus 1 day—not perfect like Christ’s). No explanation is given there as to why the Feast appeared in the West (not long before the Great Schism) on December 8 instead. But the theological difference between East and West on the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception seems as good an explanation as any, especially when we compare the time period between the conception and birth of St. John the Baptist—which is also 1 day off from an exact 9 months. (Notably, the Western-Rite Orthodox calendars I have seen place the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the 8th of December, like the Catholics.)

  2. I watched the video this morning
    before I went to Church for the Liturgy.
    It was most instructive.
    Thank you Fr John, and George.

  3. Christ is Born!

    Merry Christmas to all those on the new calendar ☦️

    • Gail Sheppard says

      We can celebrate the birth of Christ every day of the year and still be right!

      • George Michalopulos says

        This is true.

        My dear departed father stressed to me on many an occasion on how much piety is better than erudition. He saw it in the lives of the Greek rural classes and tried to impart it to us.

  4. George Michalopulos says

    This one’s a year late but it’s emblematic of what “Tis the Season” means to the people who run the collective West:

  5. Michael Bauman says

    George, great video. Thank you. It is a wonderful resource. The historical evidence seems overwhelming particularly when compared to the bias and miss-statement that occur about other historical figures within a very short period after their death. My most through experience was Andrew Jackson whom I studied at great depth before I turned to Jesus.
    However, I must say that as important as such immaculate history (to coin a phrase) is. It should always be a compliment to the direct experience of the Risen Lord, His Mother and the Saints happening right now in the midst of the chaos and collapse of political civilization.
    The experience must be vetted and fully in line with the teachings of the Church but must be discussed more in a careful way for they too are historical evidence.
    Christ is still with us not just as a thoroughly documented memory but as a living Person along with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Present each and every time we, the Church: Saints, Bishops, Priests, Monastics and Layity gather in His Name (two or more) He is with us.
    If we rely solely on scholarship (as necessary and important as it is), the Church will tend to fade and become less approachable.
    My own case: I am Orthodox only because Jesus Christ had a direct and crucial hand in greeting me the first time I walked into an Orthodox Parish. That greeting and blessing helped me weather and overcome a priest who was an apostate and morally compromised man AND a ethnic parish still often suspicious of me and my family some even openly hostile to the “foreign” invaders.
    The best scholarship comes from people who have the experience, like Fr. John but there is more and despite my background in history, the history alone would not be enough to draw me or keep me through all the hubris, bullying and rejection I received in my first seven years in the Church. Partly because He greeted me on my first day and I could see the same reality in the faces, the mercy and kindness of a few of the members. A few.

    For some unfathomable reason, Jesus wants me in the Church. The only way I can stay is through repentance. There, if I go deeply enough, He still lets me know that.

    His Mercy and Grace is not just historical but more real and current than anything else, despite such a poor witness as I.

    Please realize, my brother, I am not being critical or dismissive of good historical witness in any way. It, too, is part of the Incarnate reality of our Lord, God and Savior.

    Forgive me, a sinner.

  6. Michael Bauman says

    This too is uplifting in a slightly different way than Fr. John

    Christ is Born! May he continually be born in each heart through His Mercy and Grace of the Theotokos..

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Let us always remember. Joyful and transformative Christmas for all.

  8. George Michalopulos says

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