“Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year.”
~ Thomas Mann, 1929 Nobel Prize Laureate
Christmas 2011 in Crescenta Valley was a postcard perfect day – clear, brilliant blue skies and temperatures in the low 70s. The National Weather Service referred to it as “Chamber of Commerce weather.” Nights remind us that winter arrived last week, as the lows dropped into the 30s. The Santa Ana winds subsided just in time, allowing our front yard nativity to remain in place. Once again “Peace on Earth …” and a quiet calm spread throughout the foothills. There was a special feeling in the air on this day.
Another Christmas Day for us has passed. In Bethlehem more than 2,000 years ago, news of a “special baby” born in a stable was just beginning to spread throughout the region. The three wise men, upon hearing this, chose the appropriate gifts, packed up their camels and began their long journey to witness this proclaimed miracle. Preceding them to Bethlehem were farmers making their annual trip to not only pay taxes but also celebrate the harvest season. Also at this time a decree had been sent from Rome for “all the inhabited earth” to return to their place of birth and register for a census. A young expectant couple was in the midst of this Biblical gridlock as they made their way from Galilee. Not a great time to be on the road or to find lodging at the local inns. So the story goes …
Had I been living in those times, I would have fled the crowds in town and gone out to the fields where the shepherds were keeping watch over their flocks. This brings up an interesting time of year and weather-related quandary. What were these sheep doing out in the midst of winter? Perhaps it was not winter or the month of December when these events occurred. Most Bible historians and climatologists believe this to be the case. Bethlehem and the surrounding regions are cold, rainy and often snowy in December and January. The roads and fields were not fit for man or beast. Most scholars will agree the first Christmas was most likely celebrated in late September or early October. But, as ordered (no questions asked) by Western Church in the fifth century, according to Encyclopedia Americana (1944 edition, “Christmas”) –The birth of Christ was to be observed forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol (the sun god), as no certain date existed. So that brings us to the first days of winter.
Our winter weather for the beginning of the New Year will be Southern California style with highs in the 70s and lows in the 40s. Expect a few clouds and a cool down mid-week. Happy New Year!
2011-12 Season: 5.10
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.