Four cheers for the admirable seminarians of Massinformation (is there anywhere in the world where either Protestant or Popish seminarians have created so learned and professional a blog?) for their piece on the Christmas Proclamation. But I am a bit shy about incorporating into the S Thomas's liturgy the assertion that our blessed Lord was born on December 25. Not that I've suddenly been attacked by the querulous pedantry that the 'Enlightenment' seems to engender in the half-informed. If our Holy Father declared Christ had been born on the thirtythird of February, you wouldn't find me stepping out of line or rabbiting on, like the 'Catholic' bishop of Arundel and Brighton, about it not being ex cathedra.
But, every Christmas, somewhere in the media, some dim clever-clever journalist looks through last year's files and then writes a piece about how different bits of Christendom have celebrated Christmas at different times; about how there is no real evidence for the date; about how it is really just a Christianisation of the old pagan Roman festival of the Unconquered Sun. And there can even be the tedium of dealing with some know-all who comes up after the service to show that he, having read the Observer, is better informed than the ignorant and credulous clergy.
If I am irritated enough, I tend to snarl at such people that it is a pity they are not up-to-date enough to have read the more recent scholarship that shows Christmas as predating the commemoration of Sol Invictus, which may well be a paganisation by resurgent paganism (never forget Julian the apostate) of the preexisting Christian celebration. And how 'calculation' approaches to calendar suggest that the conception of Christ was dated to March 25 (by a combination of rabbinic tradition and patristic mathematics) before the inference of his birth on December 25 was made.
I bet that's why the administrator of Wesminster Cathedral sings the Proclamation in Latin.