The following appeared this week in the Belfast Telegraph.
The advertisements for Christmas are already beginning to inundate us.
After all, 25 December is only three months away: that's just over a quarter of a year to spend all that money. Many theologians readily admit that 25 December is not the true birth date of Jesus Christ. When, then, is the true date?
The Gospels inform us that John the Baptist, who was Jesus's cousin, was born six months before Jesus. John's father, Zechariah, was a priest in the Temple in Jerusalem in the order of Abijah. We can find when the order of Abijah served in the Temple in I Chronicles 24:10, and from this we can calculate that the birth of John fell at Passover.
Jesus, then, was born six months later, on Sukkot, or the Feast of Tabernacles, which falls on Tishrei 15.
This may not mean very much to us who use the Gregorian calendar, but Tishrei 15 falls this year on Thursday 23 September.
Biblical days begin at sunset, so the feast actually starts on the evening of 22 September, which would have been the "silent and holy night" we will all be singing about three months later.
So Jesus's real birthday will pass with hardly a soul knowing it.
Colin Nevin, Bangor, Co Down