Christmas means different things to different people. To some of us, it’s about tradition, for others, it’s about family, presents and a time for celebration. Christians celebrate Christmas to mark the birth of Jesus Christ. On Christmas Day, we reflect on the beliefs behind Christmas and how the symbolism of the celebration connects to us at Aurora. There’s one particular aspect of the Christmas story that is particularly relevant to us at Aurora- the Star of Bethlehem.
There are many theories about The Christmas Star and the real astronomical phenomena that could have caused a new star to appear 2,000 years ago. Drawing on evidence from as far afield as Rome, Prague, Babylon, Persia and even China, we look at clues to investigate the identity of the star of Bethlehem and what it means to Aurora.
The first place to start searching for a record of the star is in the Bible. In the Gospel of St Matthew ,When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the King, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying,
“’Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the East and are come to worship him.’
Then Herod privately called the wise men to him and learned of them exactly what time the star appeared.
And they, having heard the King, went their way, and lo,
the star, which they saw in the East, went before them,
till it came and stood over where the young child was.
And when they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.”
The Babylonians weren’t the only ancient civilisation to make astronomical observations. The Chinese were also making detailed records of everything they saw in the sky.
To them, the stars and planets; all the lights up there are a great control panel of indicator lights and if one of them starts blinking, or if a light appears where it’s unexpected, that means something big was happening, because it was believed that everything in the sky mirrored what’s happening on the Earth.
So, it was the same idea, that this idea of portents and omens of what was going on in the sky reflected human life.
Different traditions and cultures believe The Star of Bethlehem may have been several things –
- a bright supernova,
- a rare alignment of planets,
- a meteor or the rising of a star.
- a comet.
Matthew’s Gospel implies that the star was seen twice.
Once to bring the Magi to Jerusalem, a journey that must have taken weeks, if not months.Then a second time to lead them to Bethlehem.
That behaviour is typical of many comets showing the path of a great comet that Isaac Newton himself saw.
Now historically, the appearance of a comet has been an omen of events here on Earth that took on religious significance as the Star of Bethlehem. So, the idea that a comet was the Star of Bethlehem has been around for hundreds, if not thousands of years.
In fact, it was first written down, to our knowledge, by the Christian writer Origen in the year 248 AD. But this is the picture that really puts comets in the frame.
It’s by Giotto, the finest painter of his time, back in 1305.
It shows a typical Nativity scene, based around the infant Jesus, and above the stable, poised majestically in the sky, is a beautiful comet.
The star is also the heavenly sign of a prophecy fulfilled long ago and the shining hope for humanity. It symbolises kingship and birth of a great prophet bringing great change.
So, Christmas is a time when we must celebrate the good news of the birth of a new era of light, peace, joy and love. It is also a time to be thankful for the past, bring changes for the new year and to celebrate and rejoice the present.
Aurora which itself means the stimulation of light particles connects synonymously with the Star of Bethlehem.
Just like the star of Bethlehem that guided the magi to the prince of peace at Aurora we journey to that perfect light source, to let little lights shine like a bright new star, a supernova, The Star Of Bethlehem…. A Star of wonder, a star with royal beauty bright.