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Tradition tells us Jesus was born on December 25th, Christmas Day. However, there is no solid evidence Jesus Christ was born in winter when we consider what the Bible and other historical sources reveal.
Biblical evidence Christ was not born anywhere near December 25 was provided by Luke when he wrote: “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered..." (Luke 2:1). Luke is here referring to a Roman census and the authorities did not take a census during winter when the weather made travel more dangerous.
The normal time to schedule a census was after the harvests in late summer to early autumn, before the late autumn rains and the onset of winter, when people returning to their birthplace did not disrupt the agricultural cycle of planting and harvesting crops.
In his book Holy-Days and Holidays, author Cunningham Geikie affirms this census “could hardly have been at that season [of winter] ... (“Christmas at Bethlehem,” 1968, p. 405).
The fact the shepherds near Bethlehem were pasturing their flocks outdoors at night during the time of Christ’s birth is another indication it was not mid-December, when the weather was normally colder and the sheep would very likely be penned up in shelters overnight.
The practice at that time was to keep the flocks in open fields from April to October, but in the winter months the flocks were driven back home and protected from the inclement weather. (Luke 2:8-11). The Interpreter’s One Volume Commentary on the Bible notes: “These humble pastoral folk are out in the field at night with their flock—a feature of the story which would argue against the birth’s occurring on December 25 since the weather would not have permitted it” (1971, p. 676).
The late Adventist historian Samuele Bacchiocchi warned in a December 22, 2002, article titled A Look at the Date and Meaning of Christmas: “The adoption of the 25th of December for the celebration of Christmas is perhaps the most explicit example of Sun-worship’s inﬂuence on the Christian liturgical calendar. It is a known fact that the pagan feast of the dies natalis Solis Invicti—the birthday of the Invincible Sun, was held on that date.
A quick Internet search will show that Dec. 25 was chosen as the date of Christ’s birth not because of any biblical or historical evidence, but because this was the entrenched observance of the birthday of the sun-god!
Instead of following man-made traditions and holidays, why not keep the biblical feast days God commands that were observed by Jesus Christ, the apostles and the early Church? You’ll be surprised at how they can transform your understanding of the Bible!
Beyond Today Magazine