[quote="promethius, post:14, topic:223419"]
That's correct. As I understand, the pagans (contrary to popular belief) had not calculated the solstice times correctly, and as a result it moved forward a couple days each year. By the time the Church set Dec 25th as the Feast of the Nativity, the pagans were celebrating the solstice in, I believe, late October. It wasn't until later that actual astronomers determined the solstice date exactly as occuring a few days before Christmas that the pagans later MOVED their solstice celebration BACK to Dec 22nd.
It was STILL later in history when the Church, having ALREADY established Dec 25th as the feast of the Nativity (and December 6th as the Feast of St Nicholaus of Myra) even came in contact with the pagans of England, who by then were back to celebrating the solstice on Dec 22nd anyway. Prior to that, there was not contact between these two people.
In addition, let the record show that the soltice, Dec 22nd, is NOT Dec 25th. The ancients were very well verserd in astrology/astronomy and would not have made such a silly mistake as to celebrate the soltice 3 days late.
The other theories are that the Christmas replaced the pagan celebration of "Saturnalia"...but this was celebrated on Dec 17th. Even when it was eventually celebrated for 5 straight days, it ended before Christmas.
The third and last theory is that Christmas replaced the celebration of "Sol Invictus" or, the unconquered sun, which was in fact celebrated on Dec 25th. The cult that celebrated this holiday, however, didn't start until 273 AD. :)