One of the most troubling aspects of the Christmas season for many people is the question of when Jesus was born. The answer is simple, no one knows the date when Jesus was born. Birth records did not exist in the ancient days that would pinpoint a specific date of birth. There was really no need for such information.
We need to remember that there was no official celebration of the birth of Jesus.
The early church never made a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus because it was not necessary to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Jesus made it clear that His death and resurrection was to be the source of celebration. This is the reason that the church celebrates communion or the Lord’s Supper.
Was Jesus born on December 25?
It can be safely assumed that Jesus was not born on December 25th. In fact, it is likely that Jesus was not even born in the winter months. The gospel of Luke records that the shepherds were watching over their flocks at night. The winter months would have been too wet for such work. The winter months bring rain to the region. These nighttime watches would have been in late spring or early summer. This evidence alone shows that a December is unlikely for the date of Christ’s birth.
Why was December 25th chosen for Christmas?
The date of December 25 is important for a couple of reasons. First, we must remember that the church and Christianity endured incredible persecution. The persecution made it nearly impossible for any type of public worship or celebrations. One reason that December 25 was chose due to the close proximity of Saturnalia, a pagan festival. The Christians could celebrate the birth of Christ without fear of persecution. This theory may be plausible but is unlikely due to the lack of official celebrations regarding the birth of Jesus.
The second and more likely option is that church leaders wanted counter the celebration of Saturnalia with a Christian celebration. Since there was no official celebration for the birth of Jesus, so they created one. The church desired to have a celebration that honored the birth of Christ. The creation of Christmas was a time to reflect on the birth of Christ and the second coming. The original focus of Christmas was more on the second coming rather than the birth of Christ.
Our word Christmas comes from the worship service the Christ Mass. The Christ Mass celebrated the birth of Christ with the expectation of the Second Coming. This focus is in modern Christmas music like Joy to the World, which celebrates the Second Coming of Christ.
No December 25th is probably not the birth date of Christ but does it matter? I think not. The importance of Christmas is that Jesus came to be the savior of the world and that He will one day return to make all things new. Christmas is truly a message of redemption and grace found in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.