The date of Christmas
Question from on 04-11-2007:
I have read that in the early Church saints' and also Jesus's death days were viewed as more significant than birthdays (meaning that at first Christmas wasn't viewed as a significant date in the church calendar). Why were death days considered more significant?
Answer by David Gregson on 05-03-2007:
Easter Sunday has always been the most important feast in the Church year. The death of Christ is central to our Faith, but its meaning and power were revealed only in His Resurrection, which showed what He gained for us by dying.
The birth of Christ originally formed part of a more general celebration, the Epiphany, which commemorated not only the coming of the Wise Men, but various stages of Christ's manifestation to the world, beginning with His birth. It included also His Baptism in the Jordan and His first miracle at the wedding at Cana. So it's not that the birth of Christ was downplayed, but that it's theological meaning was emphasized, viz., that in Him, God was manifested to the world.
The Saints' (especially martyrs') day of death was regarded as their heavenly birthday, an occasion for greater celebration than their birth into this world.