} As you know, Christmas originated as a celebration of the birth of
} Jesus who, according to Christian teaching, was the Savior of the
} world. New Year's Day, obviously, celebrates the beginning of the
} year. In order to understand the reason for the closeness of the two
} holidays, we must go back in time to ancient Judea, circa 4 BC...
} We are in the house of Joseph, a poor carpenter living on the southwest
} side of Nazareth, and his lovely wife Mary. Joe is out back,
} belt-sanding a new council table for the Sanhedrin. Mary is inside,
} watching her favorite soap opera, "As the Dreidel Turns". Suddenly,
} she is blinded by a flash of light.
} "Hey? What's that?", Mary cries.
} "It is I, Gabriel, the angel of the Lord. I bring you tidings of great
} "Can it wait until the commercial?"
} "No, the word of God does not wait for commercials."
} Mary reluctantly hit the mute, and listened to what the angel had to
} say. "OK, Gabe, go ahead."
} Gabriel began to explain, "The Lord has chosen you to be placed above
} all women. You are to bear a son, and name him Jesus. He will be the
} Savior of the world, and all will call him Emmanuel."
} "What's an Emmanuel?", Mary interrupted.
} "Don't ask questions--it's just part of the script." Gabriel cleared
} his throat. "Do you accept this task which God has chosen for you?"
} "Uh, yeah, sure, I guess so. As long as I get to pick the date of the
} birth. I've got a Tupperware (tm) party coming up next week, and I'm
} hosting the bridge circle on Wednesday...I'm a busy woman!"
} Gabriel thought for a moment. "Well, OK, I guess. When do you want
} the kid to be born? Remember, this is the world's savior-to-be. His
} birthday will be honored and celebrated for millennia to come. Nations
} will make it an official holiday."
} "You mean people will get off work?"
} "Yeah, that's right."
} "Well, when could Joe use some more time off? We did want to take a
} vacation around the beginning of next year, but we only get the one day
} off. And Joe has already used up all his vacation for this year."
} Gabriel pondered this for a moment. "Why do you want to take a
} vacation then? There's nothing going on for miles."
} Mary responded, "Yeah, I know. You know Joe volunteers with the Census
} Bureau, and there's some sort of shindig going on in Bethlehem for the
} census this year."
} "OK, I guess that'll work. So we'll have the baby born January 1."
} Mary yelled, "No, no! That's already a holiday. Don't waste it. Just
} put it close to New Year's Day."
} "Well, when then?", Gabriel asked. "You can't get every day off..."
} Mary thought for a bit, and then said, "Well, how about making it as
} close to New Year's as possible. If they're close enought, maybe a lot
} of companies will give us all the time in between off. Sort of a,
} well, New Year's shutdown, you might call it."
} "How far apart could they be, and still get the vacation? That would
} maximize the benefits", Gabriel said.
} "Maybe a week or two", Mary said.
} Gabriel replied, "Better stick with a week. OK, we'll have the baby
} born January 8. That's a week after New Year's."
} Mary said, "That's fine. That'll be...oh, on second thought, how about
} the week before New Year's? Then we can claim the deduction on this
} year's taxes."
} Gabriel said, "OK, no problem. One week before New Year's
} Day--that's...December 25. Jesus, Savior of the world, will be born
} this next December 25."
} "Cool", Mary said. And with that, the angel left her.
} And so, you see why Christmas was placed so close to the end of the
} year. It was all part of God's wonderful and mysterious plans, which
} you humans cannot hope to comprehend. I realize this does shed a new
} bit of light on the original Bible story, but you did want the truth,
} didn't you?
} You owe the Oracle a prayer to intercede for forgiveness of his sins,
} because he's probably going to Hell for writing this...