In anticipation of such a request, I started to “drill down” into the journal articles looking for a clean
citation. To my surprise, and frankly a little shock, I was surprised at the sheer number of articles
(formal or not) where the December 25 date was glibly associated with the revival of Sol as a
Roman calendar date.
And yet … when push came to shove … this was only “a surmise”… a plausible assumption. The
actual ancient texts were silent on the matter!
I actually wrote to Steven Hijmans (via Academia.edu) to see if he knew of any more recent developments. It was his 2003 article that actually spelled out the fact there was no specific mention of December 25 in connection with Emperor Aurelian, circa A.D. 274. Until I hear from him, I have been contemplating what else could be done.
Within his footnote 24, Hijmans writes: “There is no explicit evidence stating that the feast of December 25 was instituted by Aurelian. In fact the Calendar of 354 is our only conclusive evidence for an official feast day in honour of Sol on that day. Other sources certainly suggest that the winter solstice was marked as more than a purely astronomical event, referring to it as the natalis of Sol. In the Calendar of Antiochus there is a discrepancy of three days between the actual solstice (marked for December 22) and the birth of the sun, marked for December 25…”
I was a little surprised that Hijmans doesn’t seem to be aware of the astronomical significance of the 3 days after the actual Solstice; December 25 is when the Sun awakens from its “3 day coma” that begins with the Solstice. I wouldn’t be at all surprised that sicne the publication of his article in 2003, 15 years ago, the author has been brought up to speed on the ancient significance of December 25, in contrast to the actual Winter Solstice. Nothing could be more relevant to a Resurrection Religion like Christianity.
If I assume the worst case, and that there is not going to be a way to “prove” that Aurelian did anything at all with December 25 (and thus doing so before Christianity had become an officially tolerated/accepted religion of State), there is still an important point of discussion: the very earliest discussion so Jesus being born on December 25 would now become the only other way to evaluate how the dynamic between rival Pagan and Christian “symbologists” played out - - while there was really no reason at all to think December 25 made any kind of a likely date as the authentic birthday of Jesus.