Why is Christmas celebrated on December 25, and when was Jesus really born: all theories

Alina MilsentNews
The birth of Jesus

Most Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, although scholars say that in the first few centuries of Christian chronology, few people had any idea of the exact day or year of Jesus' birth. For example, the earliest known record of Christmas celebrations is found in a Roman almanac that describes a celebration of Christmas held by the Roman church in 336 AD.

Most researchers agree that Christmas originated as a Christian substitute for the pagan winter solstice holidays. Why Christmas is celebrated on December 25 and when Jesus could have been born - read in the OBOZ.UA article.

Christianity vs paganism: how the church established new holidays

At the dawn of its existence, Christianity was banned in the Roman Empire, and the first Christians were persecuted and tortured - the Diocletian era alone is worth mentioning. Christianity began to gain a foothold in the Roman Empire as the main religion only in the early fourth century, and church leaders had to "reform" pagan holidays.

A fairly popular Roman pagan holiday was the "birthday of the unconquered sun" (natalis solis invicti), or, in simple terms, the winter solstice.

Every winter, the Romans honored the pagan Saturn, the god of agriculture. They held Saturnalia, festivities that began on December 17 and usually ended on December 25 in honor of the beginning of the new solar cycle. Saturnalia was a time of merriment and gift exchange. At that time, there was also Mithraism, the worship of the ancient Persian god of light. The tradition was popular in the Roman army, and some of the most important rituals were held on the winter solstice.

After the Roman Emperor Constantine I converted to Christianity in 312, church leaders made efforts to make the conversion as "smooth" as possible for the emperor's subjects.

The winter solstice holiday was not canceled; it became Christmas. Rationalizing the celebration of Jesus' birthday in late December, church leaders may have argued that since the world was supposedly "created on the vernal equinox (late March), Jesus must also have been conceived by God on that day. Consequently, the Virgin Mary, pregnant with the son of God, would have given birth to Jesus nine months later on the winter solstice."

From Rome, the celebration of Christmas on December 25 spread to other Christian churches. By the way, decorating trees and setting up a festive log are pagan rituals for celebrating the winter solstice.

The death of King Herod and the slaughter of the infants

The actual date of Jesus' birth is not known for certain. Researchers have tried to link Christmas to well-known historical events, such as the death of King Herod. According to the Gospel, King Herod, in a vain attempt to destroy the Messiah, ordered the killing of all boys under the age of two, and this event took place shortly before the king's death. Roman historians noted that Herod died in 4 BC, so Jesus could have been born in 6-4 BC, respectively.

The Legend of the Star of Bethlehem

Astrological observations were also used to calculate the date of Jesus' birth. They tried to correlate the famous Star of Bethlehem, which announced the birth of Jesus, with known astronomical events.

For example, in the 1990s, astronomer Colin Humphreys hypothesized that the celestial phenomenon could have been a comet, which was recorded by eyewitnesses from China in 5 B.C. This theory was soon refuted, but new ones emerged. The bright light may have been a rare "conjunction" of Saturn and Jupiter, which may have occurred in June of 2 B.C. or in October of 7 B.C.

Biblical clues

Ian Paul, a theologian and professor at Fuller Theological Seminary, explained what biblical clues can tell us about the date of Jesus' birth. The first hint may be the connection between the birth of Jesus and John the Baptist. Jesus would have been born 5-6 months after John, and John was probably conceived in early June. Jesus could have been born in mid-September of the following year.

By the way, in December it is too cold in Bethlehem to meet shepherds with sheep at night. Some theologians suggest that December 25 is the date of conception, and the date of birth should have been at the end of September, during the Sukkot holiday.


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