Merry Newton-mas

December 24, 2013

Isaac Newton, probably the most influential of all scientists, inventor (with Leibnitz) of calculus, was born on December 25, 1642. What better way to top off the holiday season than with a tribute to the genius that is Newton?

The television show The Big Bang Theory brought this to my attention, when Sheldon discusses why we should celebrate Newton-mas rather than Christmas, pointing out, among other things, that Jesus was not actually born on December 25, while Newton was.

Some ideas to help you celebrate the day: Place a Newton ornament on the tree. Discuss the merits of calculus over the dinner table. Use a telescope to view the night sky. Drop some unwanted gifts off the top of a tall building to test the theory of gravity.

There are many possibilities here, and don’t forget about watching The Da Vinci Code (Newton’s Tomb plays a key role in the film). Others have suggested the giving of apples or apple products (including Apple-related electronics), but the whole idea is to celebrate the life and discoveries of this great scientist.


#1 Tom Flynn (Guest) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 at 9:39am

Actually, we’re not sure on what day Newton was born. His parents disagreed with the Puritans who then ran England and forbade the observance of Christmas. Recording December 25 as a child’s date of birth was apparently a popular but safe way to express civil disobedience toward the Puritans. So yes, December 25 is officially Newton’s birthday, but like so many other things about that freighted day, the claim is likely factually untrue.

#2 Nelson (Guest) on Tuesday December 24, 2013 at 10:02am

Adding to what Tom has already said about the difficulty in fixing Sir Newton’s exact DOB, there’s also the issue of the difference between the Gregorian and Julian calendars. For, even if he was born on Dec 25th 1642 under the Julian calendar then in use in Britain, his DOB would translate to Jan 4 1643 under the Gregorian calendar we now use.

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