On Sunday, December 25, 2016, Christians and other people all over the world will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. Yet, was Jesus Christ actually born on December 25th?
Below are some points that prove this might not actually be so:
1. Catholic Encyclopedia
According to the New Catholic Encyclopedia: “The true birth date of Christ is unknown.” Also, the same encyclopedia teaches that: “Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church.”
In summary, the encyclopedia teaches that early leaders did not observe Christmas, that it was impossible that the census of Luke was done in the winter (hence it is impossible that Jesus was born on December 25th), and that compromise with paganism is the strongest source for the date of December 25th being selected.
2. Why was December 25 chosen?
The Encyclopædia Britannica says that church leaders probably chose it “to coincide with the pagan Roman festival marking the ‘birthday of the unconquered sun,’” at the time of the winter solstice.
According to The Encyclopedia Americana, many scholars believe that this was done “in order to make Christianity more meaningful to pagan converts.”
3. When was he born?
According to the Jehovah’s witnesses website, Jw.org, it is possible to estimate when Jesus was born by counting backward from his death on Passover, Nisan 14 in the spring of the year 33 C.E.
Since Jesus was about 30 years old when he began his three-and-a-half-year ministry, so he was born in the early fall of 2 B.C.E. Yet the bible does not give any exact date.
4. He was not born in winter
Another important fact, is that he was not born in winter or even in the cold harmattan of a Nigerian December. Below are two reasons why this is so:
5. The registration
Shortly before Jesus was born, Caesar Augustus issued a decree ordering “all the inhabited earth to be registered.”
Everyone had to register in “his own city,” which might have required a journey of a week or more. That order—probably made to support taxation and military conscription—would have been unpopular at any time of year, but it is unlikely that Augustus would have provoked his subjects further by forcing many of them to make long trips during the cold winter.
6. The sheep
Shepherds were “living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks.”
The book Daily Life in the Time of Jesus notes that flocks lived in the open air from “the week before the Passover [late March]” through mid-November.
The book also adds: “They passed the winter under cover; and from this alone it may be seen that the traditional date for Christmas, in the winter, is unlikely to be right, since the Gospel says that the shepherds were in the fields.”