That was a very thoughtful editorial by Neil Godbout (Dec. 22) however one point needs correction. While its true that the early church put Christian festivals adjacent to pagan festivals in order to usurp the celebrations, Christmas isnt one of them. This should be obvious by the fact that there are two different dates on which Christmas is celebrated, Dec. 25 and Jan. 6. The reason for these two dates is connected to another Christian celebration, which also does not have its origins in pagan festivities, that being Good Friday/Easter.
The crucifixion took place during the Passover celebration which was celebrated on the 14th day of the month of Nisan (Jewish calendar) that always fell on a full moon. Since the moon phases are not in sync with solar cycles, that means full moon dates vary according to our calendar and the actual date of the crucifixion was unknown to the early church, so they set the Good Friday/Easter celebration at the first full moon following the spring equinox. This is why that holiday date changes every year.
In attempting to determine the actual date of crucifixion, early church leaders narrowed it down to what they considered the two most likely contenders, March 25 and April 6. The western church decided on March 25 while the eastern church preferred April 6. (They were both wrong, the actual date has been determined to be April 3 in the year 33 AD.)
At that time, for some reason, there was a belief that a holy man would die on the day he was conceived. So if Jesus was conceived on March 25, nine months later his birth would have been on Dec. 25, or if conception was April 6, his birth would fall on Jan. 6, giving us the two dates for Christmas that are still in use.