The Journal of Biblical Accuracy
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Was Jesus born on the 25th of December? (PDF) PDF version

Was Jesus born on the 25th of December?

For centuries Christian celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ on the 25th of December. We believe that it is quite improbable that Jesus was born on that date. Luke 2:1-3, tells us about a census that was the reason that Joseph and Mary travelled. A census would have never been made in the heart of the winter since the weather conditions would make the transportation of the people to the city of their family1 very difficult. In fact, even in our modern age of fast speed means of transportation, the censuses are always done in periods where the weather will not be an obstacle. Therefore, a supposed Jesus’ birth on the 25th of December and a census at this date are not things that can go together. Also, the fact that verse 8 speaks about shepherds that were with their flock in the field is one more indication that Jesus wasn't born on the 25th of December, since because of the weather, the flock is never in the field at that time. As Adam Clark characteristically says:

"As these shepherds had not yet brought home their flocks, it is a presumptive argument that October had not yet commenced, and that, consequently, our Lord was not born on the 25th of December, when no flocks were out in the fields.....On this very ground the nativity in December should be given up" (The quotation is taken from R. E. Woodrow: "Babylon Mystery Religion", Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association Inc., 1966, this printing 1992 p.141)

From the above facts, it is clear that it is very improbable that Jesus was born on the 25th of December. Why then is his birth celebrated at this date? The reason is no other than pagan costumes that converted pagans introduced to Christianity. As J. Frazer says:

"The largest pagan religious cult which fostered the celebration of December 25 as a holiday throughout the Roman and Greek worlds was the pagan sun worship-Mithraism....This winter festival was called "the Nativity" - the "Nativity of the of the sun" (See J. Frazer: "The Golden Bough", New York, Macmillan Co., 1935 p.471.)

Even such a conservative source as "The Catholic Encyclopedia" admits that it was this heathen festival the reason for celebrating Jesus’ birth on the 25th of December:

"The well-known solar feast of Natalis Invicti [the Nativity of the Unconquered Sun] celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date" (See: "The Catholic Encyclopedia", New York, Robert Appleton Co., 1911, p.725. This quotation was taken from R. Woodrow, op. cit. p.143)

From all the above2, it is clear that the 25th of December is not the day that Jesus was born but the day that pagans celebrated the nativity of the sun. When these pagans were converted to Christianity, they brought with them their heathen practices. The church instead of taking a bold standing and fight those practices, it preferred to "christianize" them. So "the nativity of the sun-god" was changed to "the nativity of the Son of God". Unfortunately, that's just one of the many heathen practices and traditions that are still followed by a considerable number of Christians.

All this of course does not mean that we should take action against the celebration of the birth of Jesus on the 25th of December or start fighting with our families about this. The date that Jesus was born is not that important. What is important is the fact that HE WAS BORN!!! However, we should keep in mind these things and not be carried away by believing various man-made traditions.

 

Anastasios Kioulachoglou

 



Footnotes

1. The weather in Palestine is not much different from the weather in my country, Greece. Thus though the warm part of the year is much larger than in North Europe, the period from November to March can be very cold with even negative temperatures.

2. For more evidence the reader is referred to the excellent work of Ralph Woodrow op. cit.