“Joy to the World, The Lord is come! …”, goes the famous Christmas carol.
We spent all our childhood singing praises of Jesus, the saviour and welcomed our dearest Santa Claus on this day of December 25th. What if, out of the blue moon, someone comes and tells that the tale behind the birth of Jesus and his very birth date are manipulated? Ow! Taken aback?
The typical story we hear says, “It’s about 2000 years ago, the evening of December 25. Mary rides into Bethlehem on a donkey, urgently needing to deliver her baby. Although it’s an emergency, all the innkeepers turn them away. So they deliver baby Jesus in a stable. Then angels sing to the shepherds. Afterwards, they all join three kings with camels in worshipping the quiet, newborn.”
The problem here is that with passage of time, the original story suffered umpteen distortions only to present an utterly false tale. The only true events are found in the Holy Bible, God’s Word.
Brace for the myths to be busted:
- Mary rides a donkey and arrives Bethlehem the night she gave birth: The Bible does not state how and when Mother Mary came to Bethlehem. All it reads is, ” while they were there [in Bethlehem], the days were accomplished that she should be delivered” (Luke 2:6). The assumption could well have been made to suit the audience being catered to.
- Angels being present and singing to shepherds: It seems quite logical to assume that they indeed were present – God’s son had arrived after all. But, the Bible does not vouch for this detail either.
- Three Kings visited Christ at his birth: The holy scripture does not report any King visiting the Christ, the ‘baby‘. It does however, report ‘magi‘ (wise men, any number it can be) visiting Christ, the ‘child‘. Based on the calculations of King Herod and the magi (Matthew 2:16), Jesus could be two years old or under.
- Jesus was born on December 25th: The Bible does not specify a date or a month. But, December 25th seems highly unlikely to be the birth anniversary of Jesus Christ.
First; we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8): Shepherds were not in the fields during December. According to Celebrations: The Complete Book of American Holidays, Luke’s account “suggests that Jesus may have been born in summer or early fall. Since December is cold and rainy in Judea, it is likely the shepherds would have sought shelter for their flocks at night”
Second; Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census. (Luke: 2:1-4): Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.
Now that we know, that Jesus wasn’t born on December 25th, another important question is broached.
Why do many Christians celebrate Christmas on the 25th of December, if that is not when he was born?
The date was chosen by the Roman Catholic Church. Because Rome dominated most of the “Christian” world for centuries, the date became tradition throughout most of Christendom. Since no one knows the day of Jesus’ birth, the Roman Catholic Church felt free to chose this date.
The original significance of December 25 is that it was a well-known festival day celebrating the annual return of the sun. December 21 is the winter solstice (shortest day of the year and thus a key date on the calendar), and December 25 is the first day that ancients could clearly note that the days were definitely getting longer and the sunlight was returning. The Church wished to replace the pagan festival with a Christian holy day (holiday). The psychology was that is easier to take away an unholy (but traditional) festival from the population, when you can replace it with a good one. Otherwise, the Church would have left a void where there was a long-standing tradition, and risked producing a discontented population and a rapid return to the old ways.
Whatever the misconceptions, Christmas has evolved more as a fest of celebrating humanity and giving to the poor than just Christ’s birthday! The happiest moment in an year is definitely the Christmas night, in this lies no denying. So fellas, hang a sock near you bed tonight. Who knows if you get lucky and Santa visits tonight! Happy Anxiety! Merry Christmas!