I am sure many have wondered whether or not Jesus was born on the 25th of December. In fact, for the first 300 years, Christmas was never celebrated by the early Christian church. And it is almost impossible to imagine by some that Christmas would fall on any other day. The word Christmas means the mass of Christ. It is a (mass) celebration, which is sometimes called Eucharist, of the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection. Today Christmas is wrapped in superstition and merrymaking, but Christ seems to have been forgotten by the majority on this day. Which has led many Christians to repeat and circulate, as a reminder, the cliche Jesus is the reason for the season. On the other hand, the 25th of December has a history of pagan beliefs and customs and has little to do with Christ’s birth. Let us delve into the startling truth behind this widely celebrated holiday.
When was Jesus born?
Many Christians have inferred the birth of Christ to have taken place on the 25th of December. The Bible does not state an exact day and month when Christ was born. In fact, it is believed because of Luke 2:8 which states, “and there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night,” that the birth of Christ must have taken place either in the spring or autumn.
In Bethlehem, the shepherds who were told of Jesus’s birth would not have been keeping sheep in the winter time when it was cold and rainy (Ezra 10:9; Jeremiah 36:22). Shepherds in the olden days lived outside, and the weather during Christmas time would not have been conducive to them tending sheep. They would have brought their sheep in from the hillsides no later than October 15.
Secondly, according to Luke 2:1, “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed” a census of the Jewish people took place. This census would not have been practical during winter conditions where the people had to travel anywhere from 3-4 days to Bethlehem by donkeys and foot.
So it is argued that the birth of Christ could not have occurred on Christmas day. However, there is a better explanation for the 25th of December.
Why The 25th of December?
The pagans of the Roman Empire celebrated the Roman Festival of Saturnalia that took place eight days before Christmas, between December 17th and 23rd, in honor of the Roman god Saturn. And December 25th, Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, which means birthday of the Unconquered Sun was celebrated in honor of Mithra or Sol Invictus, the pagan sun god. All of these observances took place because of the winter solstice or hibernal solstice.
The winter solstice occurs when the Earth’s North pole has its maximum tilt away from the sun, making it the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. It marked symbolically the death and rebirth of the Sun. The pagans worshipped the sun around this time of year because the sun had supposedly conquered darkness.
Furthermore, Sunday (Dies Solis), the venerable day of the sun, was considered by the Mitharaist a sacred day of rest. And March 7, 321 Sunday is decreed by law to be the Roman day of rest by Constantine. The weekly observance of Sunday as a day of worship instead of Saturday, the Sabbath, was finally instituted. This law was later officially affirmed by the Roman Papacy at the council of Laodicea in 364 A.D. It stated, “Christians shall not Judaize and be idle on Saturday but shall work on that day; but the Lord’s day they shall especially honour, and, as being `Christians, shall, if possible, do no work on that day. If, however, they are found Judaizing, they shall be shut out from Christ” (Strand, op. cit., citing Charles J. Hefele, A History of the Councils of the Church, 2 [Edinburgh, 1876] 316) In other words, Christians would be deemed heretics and punished by the state.
How did this infiltrate the church?
Christmas was first recorded to have been celebrated on December 25th 336 AD, under the Roman Emperor Constantine, as one of the means of converting pagans to Christianity. Pope Julius I, later, officially declared the Birth of Christ to be December 25th. The Roman Cult to Sol is only a continuation of other earlier cults of that city until finally adopted into the Roman Christian Cult as the sole state religion.
“A feast was established in memory of this event [Christ’s birth] in the fourth century. In the fifth century, the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman feast of the birth of Sol [the Latin word for ‘sun’], as no certain knowledge of the day of Christ’s birth existed.”—Encyclopedia Americana (1944 edition)
Christ is later depicted in images for the first time as having a halo similar to the parhelion or a sun cross. These Relics are no more than a form of baptized paganism into the Roman Orthodox Christian Church. The Pagans would have no difficulty accepting these new representations of their old gods. It was a means of growing the Papacy’s influence and becoming the sole religious authority of their time.
Who is Santa Claus?
Nicholas is traditionally known to be born the 15th of March 270, in a village called Patara, to a wealthy family of Greek Christians. After his parents’ death, Nicholas is said to have distributed his inheritance to the poor and needy, following the biblical example to “sell all that thou have and give to the poor”. To Christians, Saint Nicholas (known in dutch as Sinterklaas) became the gift-bringer. Americans and the rest of the English-speaking world as “Santa Claus” (a phonetic derivation of “Sinterklaas”).
He later became the Bishop of Myra whiles still being very young. Bishop Nicholas soon became known for his generosity and kind deeds towards the needy and especially children. “He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar)” – (Saintnicholascenter). Nicholas was later venerated as a Saint in Bari after supposedly performing many ‘miracles’ superseding his death, where his followers also dedicated a shrine to him. More interesting than this, there is historical evidence that indicates Saint Nicholas never existed as a human and is fictitious.
Santa Claus is only a modern form of the Norse god Waldon or Odin. The pagans of Scandinavia and Germany celebrated the holiday Yule during the winter solstice. Many of the Christmas traditions we keep today stems back from Yule customs, such as the Christmas tree, Christmas wreath, Christmas block (Yule log) and many others. The god that was worshipped at that time, in particular, was Jólnir, originally called Odin. Odin is portrayed as an old man with a long white beard, riding his eight-legged gray horse or reindeer at night, bringing gifts to his people, an inspiration for the modern day Santa Claus.
How Should we Conduct ourselves during Christmas?
Now that you have learned the true origin of Christmas, we do want to pose a balance for our behavior on that day. Sharing this knowledge of Christmas is important, but being tactful is vitally important because of the religious sensitivity concerning this matter. Secondly, We do not want to make this time of year about ourselves and merrymaking. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). During the Christmas season of 2013 alone, the retail industry brought in 3.19 trillion dollars (statista.com). In Revelation 18:3 the bible states, “…the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her [the Catholic Church] delicacies.”
In contrast, we should use this time as an opportunity to evangelize and spend time with loved ones. A survey by Statista in 2016 showed that only 5 percent of individuals declared that they would not be joining in with the festivities of Christmas. Many people around this time of year are more opened to hearing about Christ and His goodness. Why not capitalize on this opportunity to reach them with the gospel. Why not present to them the gift of life found in Christ.
Christmas has little or nothing to do with Christianity. Logically speaking, Jesus could not have been born during the height of the winter Season. The 25th of December, however, all connects back to the worship of the Sun god in various forms throughout history. It was then later adopted first into the Catholic Church as the birthday of Jesus Christ as a plot to grow their influence amongst the pagans and become the sole religious authority. More importantly, according to the Bible, “A good name is better than precious ointment; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” Ecclesiastes 7:1. Christ’s death, and what that means for us as Christians, is more important than His birth. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.