Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Why December 25th?
Townhall.com ^ | December 24, 2013 | Erick Erickson

Posted on 12/24/2013 5:52:42 AM PST by Kaslin

One of the most popular theories and commonly taught explanations for why Christmas is on Dec. 25th is because the early church placed Christian holidays at times of Roman celebration to co-opt the local pagan festivals.

Christians placed Christmas on Dec. 25th to co-opt Saturnalia, the mid-winter festival, or possibly the Festival of the Unconquered Sun -- Sol Invictus. The theory went that Christians could get the heathen to convert by co-opting their own holidays.

There is one problem -- it sounds more convincing than it is. These theories did not start growing until the 12th century and only became popular once comparative religion became trendy after the 18th century. Going back to the earliest Christian church finds evidence that Christmas, though not initially celebrated, had starting being commemorated well before the Feast of the Unconquered Sun's creation for entirely Christian reasons.

In Egypt, less than 300 years after Christ's death, some Christians celebrated his birth in the spring. As the Biblical Archeology Society has noted, the earliest references to Christmas come at about 200 A.D., at a time Christians were not incorporating other religious traditions into their own. By 300 A.D., many Christians were celebrating his birth around Dec. 25th. Within 100 years, Christmas was on the calendar record. Christians looked to December because the early church was far more interested in Jesus's death. His death and resurrection is what matters to the Gospel, and that was the date the early church focused on.

"Around 200 A.D., Tertullian of Carthage reported the calculation that the 14th of Nisan in the year Jesus died was the equivalent to March 25 in the Roman calendar," said Andrew McGowan last year at the Biblical Archaeology Society. That would be the day of Crucifixion. The math from there is rather simple. Nine months later would be Dec. 25. Early church history held as fact that the prophets and martyrs of the church were conceived on the day they died. So if Christ died on March 25, it was also the anniversary of his conception.

Separately, and more directly from the Bible, Luke 1 tells us Zacharias, John the Baptist's father, was in the priestly division of Abijah. Based on a calculation of this and the division of priest in the temple in 70 A.D. when the temple fell, a number of early Church historians presumed Zacharias would have been in the temple in early October. Later historians, however, speculate it would have been June. The Gospel of Luke tells us when Zacharias left the temple, his wife conceived. "In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazaerth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David," Luke 1:25-26 notes.

Six months after Zacharias left the temple would be March as Mary's time of conception. Fast forward nine months and again we find ourselves in December. With the very earliest Church fathers settling on March 25th as Christ's death and believing fully that Christ's death would occur on the anniversary of his conception, the early church reinforced its belief well before there is any written accusation or evidence of the church incorporating Saturnalia or Sol Invictus into its celebrations. It is important to note, however, that most scholars reject setting Christ's birth to Zacharias's temple service because of problems related to really knowing when he was there.

But there are three final points. One can look at all of this and conclude the church fathers got it wrong. But the real question is whether they themselves thought they got it wrong. They were pretty sure they were right. The earliest Christians refused to celebrate birthdays, but by 300 A.D., there was growing evidence the Church had noted Christ's birthday around December 25th.

Second, some of the earliest traditions of the early Church held that Christ was born on what would be a Wednesday. This year, we too will celebrate Christ's birth on a Wednesday.

Finally, the date of Christ's birth is not important. What is important is that he is.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS:

1 posted on 12/24/2013 5:52:42 AM PST by Kaslin
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Anyway, it is when Santa comes!!


2 posted on 12/24/2013 6:02:23 AM PST by SADMILLIE (r)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

thanks


3 posted on 12/24/2013 6:09:46 AM PST by silverleaf (Age takes a toll: Please have exact change)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
December 25 would seem to be an unlikely date for shepherds to routinely have their flocks grazing in the Judean hills.

Here is a link to the storm earlier this month with over two feet of snow in this area. Shepherds aren't stupid. Such a storm would decimate their flock.

http://www.haaretz.com/news/national/.premium-1.563057

4 posted on 12/24/2013 6:14:37 AM PST by Sherman Logan
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan
December and January is when the Awassi (indigneous breed of sheep) ewes lamb around Jerusalem. It's the rainy season and the new grass is in. Snow storms like that are extremely rare in the area (hence why it made world wide news)
5 posted on 12/24/2013 6:23:39 AM PST by Varda
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin; RichInOC; Prince of Space; JoeFromSidney; TNMountainMan; alphadog; infool7; Heart-Rest; ...
+

Freep-mail me to get on or off my pro-life and Catholic List:

Add me / Remove me

Please ping me to note-worthy Pro-Life or Catholic threads, or other threads of general interest.

6 posted on 12/24/2013 6:25:38 AM PST by narses (... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan

Well, they would have died in the wool....


7 posted on 12/24/2013 6:27:42 AM PST by Vendome (Don't take life so seriously-you won't live through it anyway-Enjoy Yourself ala Louis Prima)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin
I love those “it’s been that way since xxxx. Paul condemned the teaching and attitude of Simon Magus before 70AD. Error had crept into the churches by that time. The argument that it’s justified simply because is started early is weak at best.

It’s always interesting that the question is never addressed, did the apostles teach it? Did God institute it? I don’t care what your view or practice on holidays is. But the lack of concern of scripture teaching and practice is rather telling it seems.

8 posted on 12/24/2013 6:33:03 AM PST by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin; All

Which is worse, non-believers attempting to disprove the existence of God by questionable science or the religious attempting to prove His existence by questionable history? You believe or you don’t. If you require proof to support your faith, you have none.


9 posted on 12/24/2013 6:34:51 AM PST by j.argese (Not anymore!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: CynicalBear

10 posted on 12/24/2013 6:36:54 AM PST by narses (... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: narses

The New Testament more than once refers to Christ being
born and “tabernacling” among us—ie, strongly
suggesting that he was born during Sukkot—the festival
which commemorated the time when Israel lived in tents
in the wilderness, and God Himself personally dwelt among them.

(that would place his birth in Sept.-Oct)


11 posted on 12/24/2013 6:41:51 AM PST by CondorFlight (I)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: silverleaf

You are welcome


12 posted on 12/24/2013 6:43:16 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Calendars used to be such messy things, and even now, they are not entirely perfect, with an artificial day created every four years, and the measurement being determined by two different means, the sidereal calendar and the solar calendar. Add to that the irregularity of the lunar cycles with the defined length of this construction of what constitutes a “year”, and there is plenty of room for sloppiness in reckoning.

Stealing the dates of a pagan holiday was about as good an idea as any for, first, displacing the pagan celebrations, and secondly, finding some “common ground” by which to make religious conversions.

It is no coincidence that “Kwanzaa” has also tried to hijack the Christmas holiday.


13 posted on 12/24/2013 6:48:42 AM PST by alloysteel (Those who deny natural climate change are forever doomed to stupidity. AGW is a LIE.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: CondorFlight; All
Please notice the very last sentence in the article

Finally, the date of Christ's birth is not important. What is important is that he is.

14 posted on 12/24/2013 6:52:04 AM PST by Kaslin (He needed the ignorant to reelect him, and he got them. Now we all have to pay the consequenses)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: narses

Martin Luther sez? Wasn’t he the Catholic monk/priest who thought Mary and Joseph disobeyed God in their marriage?


15 posted on 12/24/2013 6:53:52 AM PST by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan

They didn’t have barns. The sheep were always outside.


16 posted on 12/24/2013 7:02:32 AM PST by Wiser now (Socialism does not eliminate poverty, it guarantees it.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Someone or group would point out problems if it was August 12th.


17 posted on 12/24/2013 7:08:49 AM PST by SkyDancer (Live your life in such a way that the Westboro church will want to picket your funeral.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

See “Bethlehemstar.net” for a well researched explanation of the Star, when it was first seen, when Jesus was born, when the Wise men visited him (our Christmas celebration) and when he rose.


18 posted on 12/24/2013 7:13:34 AM PST by BigOrangeI (The Constitution says "promote the general welfare" NOT provide the general welfare.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: j.argese

Nailed it.


19 posted on 12/24/2013 7:13:59 AM PST by IronJack
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

I hate to repeat anything that Hillary said BUT “what difference does it make?”

Christ was born, he died for us, he is the Son of God. We celebrate his birth and his death. That is all!


20 posted on 12/24/2013 7:22:16 AM PST by Ditter
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Wow. I had never heard that conception/death occurred on the same day according to their culture. I was born on March 25th and have always known it was special as the Annunciation. That is was the day also of the Crucifixion wow. Frodo also threw the Ring of Power into the cracks of doom on March 25th. It was usually considered the Spring equinox. It is certainly a day of power. It used to be the first day of the year.


21 posted on 12/24/2013 7:31:28 AM PST by Mercat
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan

Maybe they were led by Obamacare navigators.


22 posted on 12/24/2013 8:15:59 AM PST by TurboZamboni ("PEACE ON EARTH TO MEN OF GOOD WILL".)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: CondorFlight

Christmas I suspect is whats happening in Revelation 11, when the whole world ‘makes merry and sends gifts one to another’ and what the deeper spiritual meaning behind that is, is not entirely clear yet (to me) beyond the pagan heathen origins of it,

But that aside, its my belief, after looking into it many years ago, that he was born in late September of 2 BC, likely the 27th to the 29th,

Which is interesting if true, as it would make him exactly 33 years old, with 360 day years (to the very day) on the Sunday prior to the crucifixion or the day before, Wednesday (midst of the week) in 32 AD,

March 14, 445 BC, as the starting point of the 490 years (or 70 weeks) determined per Daniel 9:26, is 69 sevens (x360 days) or 173, 880 days exactly counting to April 6th, 32 AD, while September 27, 2 BC is precisely 11,880 days to the same day.

March 14th, 445 BC————483 years——>| April 6th,32 AD
September 27, 2 BC-————33 years——>| April 6th,32 AD


23 posted on 12/24/2013 9:52:25 AM PST by captmar-vell
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Kaslin

Merry Christmas ...

Matthew 1:18-25

18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.

19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.

21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying:

23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”

24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife,

25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.

Luke 1:26-35

26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.

32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Luke 2:4-20

4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David,;

5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.

6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.

7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid.

10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.

11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.”

16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger.

17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child.

18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.

20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

John 1:1-18

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2 He was in the beginning with God.

3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.

8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ “

16 And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

18 No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.


24 posted on 12/24/2013 10:26:02 AM PST by Star Traveler (Remember to keep the Messiah of Israel in the One-World Government that we look forward to coming)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: SADMILLIE

Santa is a PC version of Odin.

His horse ate the bodies of the slain, hence “Rudolph the Red Nose.”

Norse children would put straw in their stockings for his horse, and get presents in return.


25 posted on 12/25/2013 11:34:18 AM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Varda

When eweing, they would not be in the fields, but rather, close to home.


26 posted on 12/25/2013 11:35:48 AM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: CynicalBear

Mark, largely thought to be the earliest gospel, didn’t mention his birth at all.

Matthew and Luke came later, and didn’t have first hand knowledge, as shown by their need to use Mark as a reference.


27 posted on 12/25/2013 11:38:20 AM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: donmeaker
Many of the people with those sheep don't have a home (other than a tent) that breed of sheep is the traditional flock of the Bedouins.
28 posted on 12/25/2013 12:22:03 PM PST by Varda
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Sherman Logan

The sacrificial sheep, used daily, were kept at Jerusalem year round on the side near bethlehem. Its a mere six miles between jerusalem and bethlehem. Anywhere in between is where the sheep were apparently located that night. Anyone will graze animals rather than use foodstores if that particular day is mild to save resources.

The symbolism of the angels appearing to the shepherds of the sacricial sheep is significant.


29 posted on 12/25/2013 12:45:40 PM PST by wonkowasright (Wonko from outside the asylum)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 4 | View Replies]

To: donmeaker

You really need to take your Roman Paganism to someone else. I’ll not have anything to do with you.


30 posted on 12/25/2013 2:11:39 PM PST by CynicalBear (For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: CynicalBear

Odin has nothing to do with Roman paganism.


31 posted on 12/25/2013 2:14:42 PM PST by donmeaker (A man can go anywhere on earth, and where man can go, he can drag a cannon.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 30 | View Replies]

To: CondorFlight
The New Testament more than once refers to Christ being born and “tabernacling” among us—ie, strongly suggesting that he was born during Sukkot—the festival which commemorated the time when Israel lived in tents in the wilderness, and God Himself personally dwelt among them. (that would place his birth in Sept.-Oct)

Yep. John conceived two days after the course of Abia on June 25, Christ conceived 6 months later on Dec 25, born on Sept 29.

32 posted on 12/25/2013 2:21:26 PM PST by Partisan Gunslinger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Ditter
I hate to repeat anything that Hillary said BUT “what difference does it make?”

2Ti 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness

God wants us to care enough about Him to know these things.

33 posted on 12/25/2013 2:25:14 PM PST by Partisan Gunslinger
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 20 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson