Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Nearly all Christians worldwide celebrate today, December 25th, as the day Jesus Christ was born. There has been no other person, whether one believes he existed or not, that has influenced the modern world as much as this theological figure. Our universal system of keeping track of time, the calendar, is based on his birth. Taken at face value, then, we can say that Jesus was born on December 25, in the year one. Not so fast! If you ask any Christian Theologian, you will discover that only a few of them believe that 12-25-0001 is the true date.

A quick search of the net will find many estimates. Some are exact, such as March 1, 7 BC or September 29, 0005. Some are approximations, such as any month from September to March and any year between 8 BC and 6 AD.

I was raised Roman Catholic, and one of the many things I found confusing when I read about the discussions of Jesus’ birth was exact dates! For someone so great, the Savior of the World, my young mind would expect the event should be written in stone, but no! Even the Catholic Scholars debated it!

To begin with, the confusion comes straight out of the Bible:

Matthew 2:1

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king.

Historical record: King Herod died in 4 BC.

Luke 2:1-2

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

Historical Record: Cyrenius (Quirinius) became governor of Syria in 6 AD.

The harmonic gospels conflict here. Either Luke or Matthew must be in error.
What to do if one takes the Bible literally?

As for the day, I find the debate fascinating. To begin with, many claim the December date is plain wrong, due to the fact that Palestine is too cold for the events that occurred at the time of the birth of Jesus, for the month of March more closely fits the bill. Other theologians answer, in fact, the first winter month is very possible. September is believed mainly by those who claim the child was conceived in December. For an event that is so significant, why is it so hard to pin down the exact date?

In Rome, 2000 years ago, December 25th was celebrated as the date of the winter solstice, and the holiday of Sol Invictus. The day before, the 24th, was the last day of the seven day celebration of Saturnalia. The ancient Romans appeared to know how to celebrate! Obviously, it was important to their culture. It is that culture where, I believe, we get the date of Christmas.

Christianity’s roots are located in Rome where it finally became organized and made official under Emperor Constantine I. The religion was off and running. In calculating a date for Christmas, it appears, than rather create a new holiday, the birth of Jesus was incorporated in the popular feasts of the day, Sol Invictus and Saturnalia. In addition, many Christians were already celebrating the birth of Christ on that day, anyway. This is where we get the current day of the 25th of December.

As in my previous post, I believe Christmas should be a universal holiday. Its spirit is in our ancient blood ever since we began praising the sun returning. December 25th in the natural and appropriate date for it.

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