Was Jesus really born on the 25th December?
Was Jesus born on December 25? There is no real evidence for this date, certainly not in the bible. So then the first thing we must ask is, who and when was it decided that Jesus’ birth would be celebrated on this date?
So Why December the 25th ?
The early Christian church did not celebrate Jesus’ birth. It wasn’t until A.D. 440 that the church officially proclaimed December 25 as the birth of Christ. This was not based on any religious evidence but on a pagan feast. Saturnalia was a tradition inherited by the Roman pagans from an earlier Babylonian priesthood. December 25 was used as a celebration of the birthday of the sun god. It was the day of reversals. A holiday during which masters became slaves and slaves became masters for a day. Christians appropriated this date from the pagans.
So if it wasn’t December 25th can we deduce a likely date when Jesus was born?
On the surface, the accounts of Matthew and Luke reveal little about the time of Jesus’ birth. No dates are given, no season of the year is named. As a well-regarded historian, Luke, however, provides a sound, orderly account of the events that removes any doubt as to the general time of Jesus’ birth. All the clues are there, and all that is required is to dig them out and put them in order to discover the truth.
The first thing to realise is that Jesus wasn’t born in 0 AD but somewhere in between 6BC and 4BC.
Palestine is very cold in December, too cold to ask the populace to travel to the city of their fathers to register for taxes. Also the shepherds were in the fields (Luke 2:8-12). Shepherds were not in the fields in the winter time. They are in the fields early in March until early October.
Scholars have calculated that Jesus lived for 33.5 years. As he died at the feast of the Passover (ie Christian Easter time), he must therefore have been born six months the other side of Easter – making the date around the September/October time frames.
Although no one can say for sure it is likely that Jesus was born in the early Autumn (September/October) sometime between 6BC and 4BC