By Calvin Rock
On the 25th of December every year Christians world-over celebrate Christmas, a day that is said to have been the birthday of Jesus Christ. According to The Bible, Jesus Christ is the son of God, a Messiah sent to come and save the world from sin and reconcile humans with God, their creator.
So, was Jesus really born on 25th December?
Most of the cultural practices surrounding Christmas Day began after the life, times, and death of Jesus Christ. Including the celebration of his birth. The first Christmas celebration held to commemorate the birth of Jesus is believed to have been in the year 336 after death (A.D. 336: “25 Dec).
People did not pay much attention to birthdays at the time. The death of saints was considered more important than his birth. In the life of Christ, the day of his baptism (January 6th) got more attention than his birth according to Christianity.
Rituals like gifting and Christmas trees kept coming up in later years. The Christmas tree custom for instance began in Germany.
First, let us look at a number of sources that disprove 25th December as the birthday of Jesus.
According to this 2014 article by The Washington Post, Christmas wasn’t always held on 25th December. Christmas was initially celebrated on the 6th of January owing to calculations driven by the belief that prophets died on the same day as their conception, with the assumption that Jesus was crucified on April 6th. The article posits that Christmas was invented by The Pope, an idea that is under contention.
Also, according to this article by Andrew McGowan (President of Berkely Divinity School at Yale), republished on the Bible Archaeology Society website, the earliest mention of Christmas was “from a mid-fourth-century Roman almanac that lists the death dates of various Christian bishops and martyrs.” In the article, reference is also drawn to Clement of Alexandria, a Christian teacher in Egypt who makes several references to the day Jesus was born but does not mention 25th December. The dates referenced are: May 20th, March 21st, April 20th and April 21st. Different days had been proposed by different Christian groups.
However, according to The Bible, which is considered the book of instruction and authority in the Christian culture, the Jews celebrated many feasts but Christmas is not among them. Among the feasts mentioned are Passover (Luke 22:15 – 16), the feast of tabernacles (Leviticus 23: 34 – 43) and Pentecost (Acts 2:1)
The only mention of 25th December in The Bible would be in the book of Jeremiah Chapter 52 verses 31 through 34 which recounts the release of Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison. “In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the year Awel-Marduk became king of Babylon, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, he released Jehioachin king of Judah and freed him from prison…” (NIV) Jehoiachin was captured by Nebuchadnezzar King of Babbylon as recorded in 2 Chronicles chapter 36 verse 6.
NO, Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th.