Why the Date of Christmas Doesn’t Really Matter

Dec. 25 is not exactly the day of Jesus’ birth. No one knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. Robert Stein writes that the shepherds go out in the fields with their flocks usually in the months of March to November.[1] If so, then December is out of the question.

But others, citing John Chrysostom’s sermon in Antioch in the 4th Century, point to December 25, because the angel told Mary about her conception of Jesus on the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Elizabeth’s pregnancy falls on the time her husband Zechariah was serving in the Temple for one week—probably on Oct. 2-9, 5 BC. Mary’s conception six months later would put it on March, making the birth month of Jesus on December.[2]

The debate goes on.

Some Christians do not celebrate Christmas because it is pagan in origin. They say it follows the Roman pagan festival, “Dies Natalis Solis Invicti,”  or birthday of Sol Invictus (the Unconquered Sun), the Roman sun god.[3] But if we avoid anything that is paganic in origin, we might as well avoid using the word, “Wednesday,” which is named after the god, “Woden,” a proto-Germanic god, from the word, “Woden’s Day.”[4] That includes the word, “Thursday,” which is originally pagan—“Thor’s day,” after the proto-Germanic god of thunder named, Thor.

We celebrate Christmas, however, not because we’re concerned with the exact date or origin of Jesus’ birth, but because of the true meaning of Jesus’ birth.

For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11, ESV).


[1] Robert H. Stein, “Luke,” (NAC 24; Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1992), 108.
[2] David Bennet, “Why is Christmas Celebrated on December 25?” Cited Dec. 24, 2011. Online: http://www.ancient-future.net/christmasdate.html
[3] “Christmas.” Cited Dec. 24, 2011. Online. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas#cite_note-bib-arch.org-15
[4] “Germanic paganism.” Cited Dec. 24, 2011. Online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanic_paganism.
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