What is the history behind Christ's 'birth date' being set as December 25th?


Clarify Share Report Asked December 03 2014 Mini Anonymous

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Mini Aurel Gheorghe
Most Bible scholar believes that Christ was born in the fall. 

This conclusion is based on calculating backwards from Christ’s crucifixion, on spring of 31 A.D, to his baptism, around His 30th birthday Luke 3, and 
His ministry of three and a half years from His baptism. 

In addition to that that, there are two other reasons to discount the December birth: 

1. We know that shortly before Jesus was born, Caesar Augustus issued a decree ordering that everyone had to register in his own city, which might have required some extended travel Luke 2:1-3. It is unlikely that Augustus would have provoked his subjects by forcing them to make long trips during the winter.

2.Shepherds were "living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks." Luke 2:8. Historic texts suggest that in that time it was customary for the flocks to be in the open air from the week before the Passover, late March, through early November. Since the Bible tells that the shepherds were in the fields during Christ birthday, a December 25th date is unlikely. 

Why do we then celebrate Christ birthday on December 25th? In 336 AD, the Catholic Church declared December 25th as Christ birthday, hoping to replace the pagan Roman holiday, Saturnalia, a celebration of the sun god birthday. The ancient Greek writers describe the holiday as widespread alcohol consumption; going from house to house while singing naked, rape and other sexual immorality, and consuming human-shaped biscuits. 

Some scholars believe that the early Church, in order to make Christianity more meaningful to pagan converts, decided to adopt the pagan holidays and change their name with meaningful Christian events.

December 05 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Gerald J S Nondo
I am of the opinion that it really doesn't matter which day Christ was born, what is important is that He came to seek and save which was lost. Redemption started that Christmas night. Birthdays, to us from Africa, don't mean much, so from that perspective we don't really worry if it's the exact date or not.

December 04 2014 3 responses Vote Up Share Report

Open uri20150816 3767 1tn9rak mark wilkinson retired school teacher and missionary
The 25th December date coincides with the Sol Invictus, a pagan festival that was held to mark the victory of light over darkness in late December. But things are not as simple as they seem. Christianity planted churches on pagan sites and adopted pagan or Jewish names and days for some of its own feast-days. 

For example Sunday (the first day of the week), Easter (Passover), Whitsun (Pentecost). Justin Martyr wrote in AD 153 of the Christian custom of Sunday worship in the mid-2nd century.

Although the word Easter had pagan origins it was used in a letter to a church in North Africa by the Council of Nicaea (325AD). In discussing the date on which to celebrate Christ's Passion they had no hesitation in using the word because everyone knew what this meant. 

The Apostle Paul dealt with the issue of celebrating certain days and months. This was in the context of Judaisers who insisted that Christians observe Jewish Feasts and customs in order to be fully reconciled to God. He did not ban these celebrations but showed that they were optional. Observance of these gained no merit for the worshipper.

A Christian is free to keep special days or practices so long as it is not idolatrous and doesn't harm anyone (Acts 15:20, 29; Romans 13:10; 14:1-8; Colossians 2:16-23). We must always beware of legalism. One reason why Christians would not want to observe pagan festivals was because it involved participating in ceremonies and sacrifices which were anti-Christian.

The Feasts of the Nativity and Epiphany have been celebrated in the Eastern Church and Advent and Christmas in the Western Church from at least the 4th century, if not before. Even if this was the time of pre-Christian festivals there are reasons other than this for celebrating Christmas then.

One idea was that the earth was created by God in March, and that the conception of the Son of God was in the same month. So Jesus would have been born nine months later. If 21st December was, for pagans, the time of victory of light over darkness, so for Christians 25th December was the time when the True Light of the World came into the world to conquer Darkness (John 1:1-5).

It has been argued that Jesus would not have been born in December as it was too cold for Palestinian shepherds to have been on the hillside at that time of year. It sometimes snows around Bethlehem in winter. It has been suggested that an April birth would be more appropriate. Flocks of sheep would be kept for the Passover sacrifices in nearby Jerusalem. But equally well, flocks would be kept for the autumnal Feasts of the Day of Atonement and Tabernacles which was in September-October. Going back to December it is not impossible for shepherds to have been sheltering from the elements in a hut while they watched over their flocks by night.

Luke 1:26 speaks of the 'sixth month' when the angel Gabriel visited the virgin Mary to announce that she would conceive the Son of God. This could have been the sixth month of her cousin Elisabeth's pregnancy. But it could also refer to the sixth month of the Jewish calendar. This was the month Adar, which occurs in March-April. If the conception of Jesus took place during Adar his birth would follow in December. 

John Chrysostom (early 5th century) calculated that Zechariah served as priest in Jerusalem in October. He was of the division of Abijah which was of the 8th division of priestly duties. If Elizabeth conceived shortly after his encounter with Gabriel, she would have been pregnant for 6th months in March putting Mary's delivery in December. 

Sextus Julius Africanus (b220) argued that since the world was created on 25th March the conception of Jesus must have been on that date and so his birth would fall on 25th December. 

Another calculation was based on the Jewish idea that a prophet died on the day of his conception. If Jesus died on 25th March he must have been born on 25th December. 

Hippolytus of Rome in 225AD discussed whether Jesus was born on 25th

December 04 2014 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Wambui Mburu
Shalom it does matter to I believe to God when the Messiah was born for it is written:

Galatians 4:4
But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law,

It is not a time to picked at random and that especially by His creation, God had a specific time according to His calendar and His will and purpose. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven-a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

There is one according to Daniel 7:25 who seeks to change the times and seasons that the Father has put in His own authority. Acts 1:7

One event that He did not require us to celebrate so much so that the time of His birth is hidden is Yeshua's birthday. Why do we insist on a day that has no biblical justification? He is after all the King of kings and Lord of lords. We don't set His times, our very times are in His hands.

Every single day of the year, every hour of the day, we can proclaim 'Joy to the world the Lord has come, peace on earth and goodwill to all men!' and continue on with the whole story of our redemption. 

I don't know if I can call it sad or amusing that we go on and insist that it's His birthday and then go on to wish each other 'Merry Christmas!' and give each other presents. Something is wrong with that picture.

Why copy what the pagans do while His ways are above our ways and so much better and safer for us?

December 28 2014 2 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini Darenstafford0923@gmail com Stafford
When the Arch Angel Gabriel came to Mary and told her of the conception, she ran to her cousin Elizabeth, who was 6 months pregnant with John the Baptist. She was also the wife of Zacharias, who was a priest serving the course of abia, which is a date. There are two courses per year, so with some study you can figure a pretty close date. 

My thought is the conception took place on Dec. 25th, which would make the birthday around the end of September. Like the others have said the shepherds were not in the fields in the winter. But also the end of September was the feast of Tabernacles, which would explain why there was no room at the inn. 

It has been a while since I have studied this subject, so my answer is based on what I remember. So I could have some things incorrect. But if you wish to do a deeper study, you could start with Luke chapter 1.

December 28 2014 1 response Remove Vote Share Report

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