Merry Christmas! December 25th will be here before we know it. Christmas Day may be the single biggest recognized Day in History. Yet, what happened on December 25th? Was Christ really born on 12/25-0 in “the first year of our Lord” – on which our “Calendar” is based.
The best source – The Bible – holds some clues but few real facts about when Christ was born. Before I lurch ahead allow me to state the obvious. It doesn’t matter when Christ was born. When ever it was we can be assured that it was “in the fullness of time” – just at the exact time chosen by God – that a portion of God that we comprehend as The Son set aside His right to be God and took upon flesh as human.
The best Bible clue is of course “the Shepherds were in the fields tending their flocks by night.” Israel is cold and rainy and some times – like this year – snowy in “mid-winter.” They would not have been out in the fields but in shelter at this time.
Another clue is that Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem for the Census. It’s not likely the Roman Government would have held a census in mid-winter when not only the weather was bad but also were the roads.
Based on these Bible clues the mid-winter date seems illogical to me.
One thing that there is general widespread agreement on by historians is that the birth day and year were established in an agreement put forth by The Catholic Church and sanctioned by the Roman government when Julius Caesar created the Julian Calendar – 45AD. The date chosen – December 25th – was a popular Pagan (non-Christian) Holiday and some feel the Church thought it might make Christianity more palatable to the “unbelievers” if they set the birth of the Christ Child on their special holiday. Imagine that – people who aren’t interested in Spiritual things getting all fired up about a Holiday and going out and buying presents and partying like it was 45AD. Who would believe a story like that?
Regarding the year most serious scholars put the year of Christ birth as six to four BC – based on our calendar. The most likely year seems four BC – the year of Herod’s death – but that is only an educated guess.
My personal leanings are a Spring birth. It fits the Bible clues and coincides with the concept of new life breaking forth in the Spring. Two sites below support an April or May Birth. If so, Christ’s sacrificial death and atonement for our sins would have concluded His 33 years of Life around the time of His birth – Godly Symmetry – Double Threes – the Number of Unity.
The other sites – some using the birth of John the Baptist for example and moving forward postulate an August-September date. While it’s not my first choice it certainly makes more sense than mid-winter in Israel.
If anyone doesn’t believe it gets cold and snows in December in Israel all you have to do is look at the pictures of the huge snow storm in Israel last week (see site below) that virtually brought the Nation of Israel to a halt for a couple of days.
Regardless of when Christ was born – it’s my perception, therefore my reality that the most important thing to consider this December 25th is do you believe the Baby Born in the Manger became the Messiah/Savior who suffered and died on the Cross for the full payment of our sin?
Otherwise 12/25/13 is just another Pagan Holiday and a great excuse for Retailers, Restaurants and Bars to have their best Season of the Year.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year – what ever that means to you!
Here are but just a few of the many sites you can read on this topic.
Pictures of the big snow on 12/15 in Israel.