Quite a Year
No, I’m not going to bore you with more on Trump, Brexit and the like. It’s been quite a year for the Church too. There was the Jubilee Year of Mercy, Good Friday landing on the Feast of the Annunciation, and now we have Christmas Eve coinciding with the start of Hanukkah. I don’t think those coincidences happen together very often. According to the most reliable 😉 of sources, the Internet, the first coincidence has also happened in 1910, 1921, 1932, 2005 and won’t happen again until 2157. The second coincidence happened in 1902, 1940, 1978 as well as 2016. Add in the Jubilee Year, and it seems to be a very rare conjunction.
Church tradition tells us that Jesus came into the world (at the Annunciation) on the same day that He left it (Good Friday), so when these two dates collide in the liturgical year it is seen as significant (or at least it used to be). The Internet (that most reliable of sources) will tell you that the Church picked the 25th December for the date for Christmas because it wanted to co-opt a pagan festival. It is actually the other way round, and you won’t have to search hard to find more information on that. It seems much more likely that the 25th was chosen because Hanukkah starts on the Hebrew lunar calendar date of 25 Kislev; Kislev coincides roughly with December. Hanukkah is a Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The early Christians lost touch with the Hebrew calendar and adopted the calendar of the Romans instead. It would have seemed natural to them to celebrate the birth of the living temple (John 2:19) on the 25th of the month which corresponded to Kislev. (By the way, the Annunciation is celebrated on the 25th March, nine months before Christmas.)
And if you’re interested in further Christian coincidences in 2016 you might like this article. I’m not drawing any conclusions except that 2016 is quite a year, and 2017 might be a doozy.