Kyrle Probus welcomed Reverend Robin Noble, who gave the annual Christmas Message to members, wives and partners at the Conservative Club. Probus President, John Taylor, told the members about Robin’s 27 years as a RAF Chaplain.

The lecture was entitled ‘Things you may not know about Christmas’. Robin explained that it could have been entitled ‘Bah Humbug’" as he planned to strip away many of the myths surrounding Christmas, and focus on the elements of the Nativity.

The Christian New Year starts on the first Sunday in Advent which this year was December 3rd.

Christmas Day is celebrated on December 25th, the Festival of Saturn, which is associated with good cheer, happiness, family get togethers, and role reversal. So the tradition of winter, Lapland and snow is pure ’humbug’!

When did the birth occur? Caesar Augustus, first emperor of Rome from 27BC, ordered an updated tax assessment when Judea became attached to Syria in 6AD which was when Quirinius was governor. Robin queried whether Quinctilius, governor of Judea from 6-4BC, was in fact the governor involved. Modern thinking has settled on 6BC.

What was the great light in the sky? It could have resulted from the conjunction of jupiter and saturn which, according to the astronomer Kepler, occurred in 7BC.

Who was Santa Claus? He is based on St Nicholas who in the 4th century, was Bishop of Myra, in what is now Turkey. He was aware of a family with three young daughters whose poverty would lead them into prostitution. Knowing that they would not accept charity, St Nicholas made up three bags of gold and threw them through their window (not down the chimney). The principle of giving gifts was established. The name changed to Sinterklaas with Dutch settlers in the US. There is no connection with Christmas, it is just more ’humbug’!

Why a Christmas tree? Initially a prop in medieval mystery plays, and identified with ‘a paradise tree’, an evergreen for all-year use, with fruit and tinsel representing apples and the serpent in Eden. The plays lost popularity after the development of mass printing, and mass education. In 1800, George lll’s wife, Princess Charlotte introduced a Christmas tree to royalty. After Queen Victoria’s marriage to Prince Albert, the custom became established in upper class families.

Why Boxing Day? The parish poor box has been established in churches for many years but after Boxing Day, with the church full of generous donors, it is spread among the poor of the parish.

Why wise men? Not a feature of Christmas but from Epiphany or Three Kings festivals celebrating the incarnation of Christ.

Robin answered a number of member’s questions before he was thanked for an enthralling lecture.

The next meeting of Kyrle Probus will be on January 4th, when member Jim Hamilton will speak on ‘A Canadian Adventure’.

Kyrle Probus is a men only group that meets on the first and third Thursday of the month at 10am at Ross Conservative Club, when members listen to lectures from members or outside speakers. To find out more about the club, contact secretary Jeff Morris on 01989-563698 or visit