Should We Celebrate Jesus’ Birth On December 25th?

Should we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th? In my last post, we looked at the evidence for the census described in Luke 2:1.  As we continue looking at the birth narrative in Luke this Christmas season, the next section deals directly with Jesus’ birth:

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child.Jesus Birth on December 25th

 This one simple line announces the birth of the most influential person that has ever lived.  Authors have written more books about this simple Jewish carpenter from Nazareth than any other person in history. Christians celebrate His birth as the savior of the world.

Everyone wants to know more about this fascinating figure from history.  In this respect, the Gospels can be frustratingly lacking in detail.  Our modern society wants information and wants it instantly.  My daughter watches movies in a completely different way than I do.  She will have her phone out, and will be looking up information on the director, actors and plot while the movie is playing.  She is having an immersive experience. This type of interaction is difficult with the Gospel accounts.

One of the key pieces of information everyone wants to know about Jesus is when He was born.  We celebrate this date on December 25th.  But was that really the date he was born on?  The fact of the matter is that we simply don’t know.  What is the probability that any one date is the correct one? My calculation is 365/1.

It is interesting to see where all of the theories stem from.  Below are the arguments for some of the dates that have been suggested over the years.


Jewish Rabbinical Tradition

 One of the more interesting arguments for the December 25th date comes from a Jewish Rabbinical tradition. It is commonly believed among Jewish Rabbi’s that the Old Testament prophets died on the same day they were conceived. Fixing the date of Jesus’ crucifixion at late March or Early April would then line up with a late December birth. Whether or not this is accurate, there seems to be a thread that runs through early Christian writing showing that Christian leaders took the argument seriously.


A Shepherds in the Fields

 Luke states later in his Gospel that   In that region there were shepherds living in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. Many Scholars believe this to be a clue as to the time of year that Jesus was born.  Shepherds typically would not have their flocks out in the fields during the winter months. They would instead be in the fields in the spring or fall.

Paul L. Maier points out in his book The Fullness of Time an interesting counterpoint to this argument.  Maier points to a passage in the Jewish Mishnah showing that some sheep pastured near Bethlehem were used in Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem.  This would necessitate them being in the fields year-round. Current shepherds in the region still keep their sheep in the fields most of the winter season.


Early Christians Borrowed the Roman Celebration of Saturnalia

 Romans celebrated their Saturnalia festival in late December each year.  Scholars widely accept the theory that early Christians replaced this festival with Jesus’ birth.  A second Roman festival honored the “Unconquerable Sun” on December 25th.  These would have been a natural substitution for Christians trying to move a culture away from a pagan practice into a Christian one.

Lenny Esposito does a thorough investigation of this Roman Holiday in two blog posts.  He concludes that the dates for the festivals do not line up with the December 25th date. In fact, it appears that it is in fact the pagans that stole the date from the Christians.  Lenny has done some incredible research in these articles. I highly recommend reading them.


 Conclusion

So should we celebrate Jesus’ birth on December 25th? good arguments can be made for the December 25th dating of Jesus’ birth. there is no conclusive evidence for the fact however.  Does this dampen my celebration of Christmas on the date we observe?  Absolutely not! Why am i not bothered that even if it turns out that the date were appropriated from a pagan holiday? Because this is not what I celebrate at Christmas.  I am not celebrating the Unconquered Sun.  I am celebrating the Unconquered SON.  And may you and your family enjoy the Christmas season as well!

Discuss your thoughts for this post on our Facebook Group here.  

One thought on “Should We Celebrate Jesus’ Birth On December 25th?”

Comments are closed.

Catagories
Archives
Calendar
April 2021
S M T W T F S
 123
45678910
11121314151617
18192021222324
252627282930  
RSS Listen to Our Latest Podcast Here
  • Are There Modern Day Apostles? April 15, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team answers the question "Are there modern-day apostles?"
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • The Fate Of The Apostles April 13, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team explores what became of the 14 Apostles. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • QCQ: What Is The Mark Of The Beast? April 8, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question "What is the mark of the beast?". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • The Interfaith Dialogue April 6, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team discusses an interfaith dialogue that David participated in. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • QCQ: Should The Book Of Hebrews Be In The Bible? April 1, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the question of whether or not the book of Hebrews should be in the Bible. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • WandaVision And The Ship Of Theseus March 30, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team discusses a recent episode of the hit show, WandaVision, and its use of the thought experiment called "The Ship of Theseus". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • QCQ: The Trinity Is Never Mentioned In The Bible March 25, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the objection that the Trinity is never mentioned in the Bible
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • Dealing With Objections To The Resurrection March 23, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team deals with different objections to the resurrection of Jesus. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • QCQ: The Bible Was Written By Bias Christians March 18, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity QCQ Podcast, the team answers the challenge that "The Bible was written by bias Christians". 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean
  • How Do We Understand The Timing Of Events In Holy Week? March 16, 2021
    In this episode of The Tent Making Christianity Podcast, the team discusses the timing of the events of Holy Week. 
    Drew Covert, David Johansen, Paul Yearyean