Last year (2022-2023) Peg and I were in the country of Georgia on Christmas Day (December 25th). However, when we wished some of our Georgian friends “Merry Christmas”, they said as Coach Lee Corso might have said, “Not so fast”. Many Christians in that one-time Soviet Union country do not adhere to Pope Julius’ date for Jesus’ birthday as December 25, but also celebrate the Gregorian date in 2023 of January 07. Many Georgians recognize both dates and the “Christmas Season” for many others runs from December 25 of one year through the first week of January of the next.
The beautiful city of Batumi, Georgia where we worked for six months with Georgian judges was right on the Black Sea and was decorated with colored lights and yuletide trees. The streets were filled with festive shoppers and frequent carolers for two weeks as our Georgian friends showered us with home-grown wines and baklava; I was pleased to see the Christians championing the marvelous Muslim delicacies as a Christmas tradition.
Pope Julian I’s term was 337 to 352 and Pope Gregory’s was 540 to 604. They both instituted a calendar with Julian’s arbitrary date of December 25 for Christ’s birth not being contested by Gregory, but due to the new method of calculating days of the year, the date for Christmas migrated to January 7. If you are fascinated by the vagaries of how this all worked, you probably need to get out more. All Peg and I cared about was after years of only having one Christmas we now had two with Advent gaining about another two weeks. I hope Santa Claus can keep up in 2023/2024.
I have already let it be known that I am expecting gifts on both December 25, 2023 and January 7, 2024. Also, I hope that with the expansion of the Holiday Season the NCAA will finally open up the bowl season for all college football teams, not just those who have won 6 games or more. We only have 43 college football bowl games involving 86 schools now. So, if we let the other 46 or so Division I colleges play we could have another 23 bowl games between December 25 and January 07. It would certainly be better than having to watch the national news. Besides, my alma mater, Indiana University, would get to play a bowl game then.
Anyway, Peg and I say to our Georgian friends (and also to our American friends), Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night, good night!