Joe Combs wrote a regular column for the Beaumont Enterprise for many years. He wrote about nature,
Here are some paragraphs from his “Farm Corner” column of December 26, 1959.
We have our Christmas celebrations on December 25, and few persons know there was another Christmas Day observed by the old-timers up until recent times. It is called “Old Christmas.”
Around the turn of the present century there were many families who insisted that Old Christmas was the real day of Christ’s birth and the one that we should be celebrating.
January 6, by our calendar, is the day the Eastern Church celebrated Christmas Day. The people ofEnglandandScotlandwere especially concerned about the change from that date to December 25. There were many Scottish and English families that would never celebrate or feel fully satisfied with, December 25.
In the fourth century theWestern Church adopted the date of Christ’s birth as December 25. There were several changes in the calendar in ancient times, made to try and fit the number of days in a year to the actual time it took the world to make its trip around the sun.
They have never been able to do exactly that, so we still lose about a day every four years. This brings about leap year, and gives February 29 days so we can catch up with the earth’s revolution around the sun.
Before the present calendar was adopted, however, the number of days in a calendar year was so far from the actual length of a year, that something like four years was lost in the shuffle. With that trend in dates, they knew they would have to do something about it; or else the first thing they knew, January would be in summertime.
But the calendar has continued and we still have December 25 as our greatest holiday. In this observance, however, we may be off several days on the actual date of Christ’s birth. There are many theories about it. Our churches think the one we have is best; so it will no doubt remain. After all, we are not celebrating a date, as much as we are the gift of a Savior to mankind. That is the all-important thing.
Old-timers thought that Old Christmas had a lot of influence upon the plants and animals. They declared that if you watched cattle or horses on Old Christmas night, you would find that each rose to its feet at exactly midnight on Old Christmas Eve.
They said also that you might observe the limb of a fig tree and that it would sprout, or swell its buds on Old Christmas Eve night.
It might be covered with ice, they said, but the bud would swell enough to crack its ice covering and show signs of growth.
From: Farm Corner: A Collection of Little Essays On Nature , by Joe F. Combs.