Many people around the world celebrate December 25th as the birth of Jesus, the savior of the world. However, the truth is, we don’t now for sure when Jesus was born. The Bible doesn’t say. Everything is speculation. Some people claim we celebrate then because a Roman emperor who was a Christian was trying to replace a pagan holiday so the people would focus more on Christ and stop celebrating the ancient Roman god of the sun, and he chose that day because he wanted to get rid of worship of the sun god and replace it with worship of the one true and living God. However, there is evidence that Christmas was celebrated a couple of hundred years before this emperor even lived. There are so many debates about when Jesus was truly born and why we celebrate on December 25th.
One particularly interesting one says that on March 25th is when the angel came to Mary to tell her that Jesus would be born, and December 25th is 9 months later. However, I ask, how do the know when the angel came to Mary? Another theory tries to use the date of John the Baptist as a way to try to judge when Jesus was born. They have some sort of an idea of when Zachariah, John the Baptist’s father was a priest in the temple, and try to connect that somehow to when Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist got pregnant, and then they talk about Elizabeth being 6 months pregnant when she sees Mary to announce to her that Jesus is coming. Every scholar has a different idea.
One thing for sure, though, is that the calendars changed, and that messes with the dates of anything they thought they might know too. When I was in Romania, I heard something about people celebrating Christmas on January 6th. I think some said December 25th was the Catholic Christmas and January 6th, the Orthodox Christmas because of the changing of the calendars. Most people don’t realize that the world used to use another calendar, (I think it was called the Julian calendar) and now we use what is called the Grigorian calendar. Even Easter is celebrated on different days in Romania because of the calendar change. They have a Catholic Easter and an Orthodox Easter. Churches in the west don’t realize it, but the west celebrates the Catholic Easter. The changing of the calendar confuses things even more when we try to remember when any ancient dates were.
Most people know that “mass” means a worship service to the Catholics, but do they realize that when they talk about Christmas, they are talking about an actual church services Christians used to have to celebrate the birth of Christ? I have heard Christians were doing this as early as 200 years after the death of Christ.
One source I read says that Jesus was probably born in the fall, and another said in the summer, and still another in the spring, but everyone was adamant that it wouldn’t have been in the winter. The reason they all gave for this made sense. They based it on the census that took place around the time that Jesus was born. The Roman empire didn’t take a census in the winter because travel was too hard during that time. That makes sense.
Many point to Jesus as being born in June because they say the shepherds would not be in the fields in the winter because there would be snow on the ground, and surely those shepherds would have sought out shelter at night. However, I can tell the scholars must not have lived in a snowy country where people take care of sheep. When I lived in Romania, those shepherds were always in the fields. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. They dressed themselves in big this sheep skins and wore sheep skin hats. I remember seeing them out in the fields with their sheep when there was snow on the ground next to a fire. It was a terrible life, but it is how they spent their lives, so I can’t completely accept their reasoning that surely when there was snow on the ground, the shepherds would have sought shelter, but perhaps some shepherds do seek shelter during that time. I am not a shepherd, so I really don’t know.
One thing the scholars said made sense. They said that it was probably in June because of the time of the Passover, and during the Passover, the Jews would have needed lots and lots of baby lambs. Many traveled to places like Bethlehem and Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover. The Romans would have known this when they set the date of he census so they could count everyone. It would make sense that they would make the census on a time when most people would be going to their hometowns anyway. It also makes sense that during that time, trying to get a guest room to stay in would have been virtually impossible unless you were one of the lucky ones who got there first. It makes sense that if it was around the time of the Passover, the shepherds would be in the fields close to the towns because they had to have those baby lambs available to sell for the Passover.
However, no matter what anyone says, everything is speculation, and nothing is fact except the fact that Jesus was born, he lived and taught and did wonderful things, was killed for it, rose from the dead three days later, and many witnesses saw him rising up into the Heavens at the Mountain of Olives. These are the things we know for sure. The scholars can’t even all agree on the exact year of his birth, only an approximation. He is the only holy man of any religion who came back to life after he died.
It is also true that Christmas has a wonderful meaning. It is a celebration of a wonderful event and person! I know there are churches who think we shouldn’t celebrate it at all thinking we are celebrating an old Roman holiday of the god of the sun. However, holidays have the meaning that we subscribe to them, and if we don’t want to make it about the god of the sun, then it isn’t. Some say, “Okay, let’s celebrate it because it is a wonderful holiday, but just not say it is the celebration of the birth of Jesus.” That is fine. Each person has their own way of thinking. As far as I am concerned, I am a Christian, and I know the history behind the holiday, but I talk about Jesus every day of my life. He is in my very being. Why would I let the whole world celebrate him on one day, and not join them? I appreciate them celebrating the birth of my savior and king. If I acknowledge Christ every other day of the year, but refuse to acknowledge him when the rest of the world is acknowledging him, it makes me look rather crazy and fanatical in the wrong way. The point is the love that Jesus brought us and sharing that love with one another. If I had my way, it would be Christmas all year long, every day of the year. I love the way people treat one another at Christmas and wish they would do it everyday of the year.
If you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, if you don’t want to acknowledge the birth of Christ, okay. It is your prerogative. I know you are following your conscience, but don’t tell me I am sinning because I like the meaning of Christmas so much that I want to celebrate it or want to talk about Jesus on that day. The day of his actual birth is not important or the Bible would have recorded it. However, the fact that he was born is important. His ministry, death, burial, and resurrection would never had taken place if he hadn’t been born. The truth is, I was not taken to church when I was small and knew nothing about Jesus, but hearing Christmas carols like “Away in a Manger” made me curious because I didn’t know what baby it was talking about or what a manger was. I made me try to figure it out, and as a Christian, I want people to hear about Christianity and try to figure it out.
Many in the church I belong to celebrate Christmas, but are not so sure about talking about Christ on that day, but he is the focal point of my life as a Christian. When I was a new Christian, I wondered if I should go that way too, but someone sent me a Christmas card talking about Jesus, and I was thrilled! I want to talk about Jesus. If others are talking about Jesus, and I am not, but I am a Christian, it seems contradictory. It doesn’t have to be his actual birthday to talk about him on Christmas. We don’t have to lie about it, but just appreciate the fact that he left the father and came to the earth regardless of when it happened.
I always go back to this scripture: ” Therefore, do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration, or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come, the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body is supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. Since you died to Christ to the basic principles of this world, why as though you still belong to it, do you submit to its rules? Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch! These are all destined to perish with use because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self imposed worship, their false humility, and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2: 16-23).
“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:2). It is not wrong to acknowledge Christ at any time. We don’t need to let people judge us for celebrating Christmas. They think they are wiser than we are. They make life hard by saying: Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch,” and those seem wise, but they don’t help anyone to live a better Christian life. These people are worshiping themselves because they think they are very holy. We shouldn’t celebrate Christmas frivolously either. We acknowledge that it is not really the birth of Christ because no know knows when it happened, but we love Christ. and we love everything he stands for! We want to talk about him everyday. We want to think about spiritual things. We can appreciate everyone talking about Christ all around the world on the same day. I love the feeling of love and forgiveness that people give one another at Christmas, and I want to take part in that love and forgiveness. I am not going to be so religious that I try to shut up about Christ one day a year. It is an opportunity to talk about Jesus at a time when people will listen even if it isn’t the actual day of his birth. Let’s celebrate his love and share it with others.