The exact date of Jesus’s birth is not stated in the Bible, so, how come that the world always celebrates Christmas on December 25?
A lot of theories came up why Christmas is being celebrated on December 25. One theory is based on the Christian tradition of The Annunciation; the day Mary was given the message that she will conceive a very special baby that is Jesus. This took place on March 25, so, counting nine months from this date, it was assumed that Jesus was born on December 25.
Another inference alluding to December 25 as the Birthday of Christ was a record in a fourth century Roman Almanac containing a list of Christian bishops and martyrs mentioning that Christ was born in Bethlehem in Judea on 25th of December.
The “Hanukkah”, an eight day Jewish festival of Lights is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev corresponding to late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. A prophecy in the bible cited that a Jewish savior will be born. Jesus was a Jew which might be another ground why December 25 was selected as Christmas Day by the early Christians.
December is a month for celebration by the people in ancient times. One such festivity that is being practiced by some until this time is the Winter Solstice, the briefest time between the rising and the setting of the sun.
Another pagan feast which took place in December is the Saturnalia, honoring the Roman God, Saturn. Also, the celebration of the “Dies Natalis Invicti” or birthday of the “unconquered sun” falls in this month. Jesus was identified by Ambrose (one of the Great Church Fathers), as the “Sun of Righteousness”.
Further, it is speculated that if Christmas look like a pagan celebration, the non-Christians will welcome a new holiday which is Christmas, embracing the God whose birth was celebrated. Some aspects of the present Christmas festivities resemble pagan jubilees, like the giving of gifts and merrymaking which are done in the “Saturnalia”; the lavish foods from the Teutonic fetes; and the sparkling lights and green trees from the Roman New Year.
To dissociate the Christmas celebration from its pagan roots, the word Christmas was introduced by the Christian church. The term “Christmas” was coined from the old English word “Cristes Maesse” or “Mass of Christ”. Also called the Eucharist celebration, the Mass service commemorated the death of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection.
According to records, western Christians first celebrated Christmas in 336AD. This is during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine who declared that Christianity will be the chosen religion of the empire. However, the official declaration that the birth of Christ will be celebrated every December 25th came from Pope Julius I few years later.
The celebration of Christmas is usually joined with the earliest feast of the church, the Epiphany. At first, the Eastern churches celebrated Christ’s birth on January 6 but eventually they embraced December 25 as Christ’s birthday and his baptism on Jan. 6. On the other hand, the Western church celebrated January 6 not as Christ’s baptism date but as the date the Magi arrived to pay tribute to the infant Jesus.
Though many Christmas traditions resembled pagan practices, Christians celebrate this holiday because of Jesus. Whether he was really born on the 25th of December or not, it does not matter. What is important is the commemoration of his birth and the gift of salvation and eternal life.
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Merry Christmas Everyone!!!