Merry Newtonmas!

topic posted Fri, December 2, 2005 - 7:34 AM by  Unsubscribed
From Wikipedia:

Newtonmas is a secular holiday celebrated on 25 December each year in honor of Sir Isaac Newton's birthday. Newton was born on 25 December 1642 (OS). He made important advances in science and mathematics, held a professorship at Trinity College without joining the clergy, and according to the legend, his ideas about gravity were inspired by a falling apple. For secularists who enjoy being caught up in Christmas excitement but uncomfortable celebrating a religious holiday, his birthday fortuitously provides a convenient opportunity for non-religious celebration. (Note that Newton was born before the introduction into England of our present Gregorian calendar; if we retroactively apply that calendar backwards to include his birth, it would fall on 4 January.)

Some have suggested that Newton might well have been bemused at his birthday's appropriation by secularists, pointing out that despite his fame as one of the greatest scientists ever to have lived, the Bible was Sir Isaac Newton's greatest passion. He devoted more time to the study of scripture than to science, and said, "I have a fundamental belief in the Bible as the Word of God, written by those who were inspired. I study the Bible daily." It should be noted, however, that some scholars have argued that Newton's privately held religious beliefs were far outside the norm for the time, and, certainly non-traditional, would have quite probably been considered heretical.

In preference to Newtonmas, some people use the term Gravmas, an abbreviation of "gravitational mass" which carries a double meaning in this context.


Like the Christmas tree, the holiday boasts a "Newtonmas Tree" — an apple tree. Some who celebrate this holiday, believing that "it's not nice to kill trees", substitute "something green and treelike" with apples, preferably synthetic ones, on them. Living apple trees are of course preferable; they can be festooned in place as they grow with decorations like lights and ornaments.

Gifts of knowledge are exchanged on Newtonmas morning. Popular choices are books, CDs, videos, or other media — the point is that the gifts, according to tradition, should contribute to the recipient's intellectual development.
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