Why the quotes around Christmas? Because celebrating Christ’s birth on this day was so late to happen, it’s obvious the day itself has nothing to do with Christ, save the meaning people have given it. From the Biblical Archeology Review (break added):
Finally, in about 200 C.E., a Christian teacher in Egypt makes reference to the date Jesus was born. According to Clement of Alexandria, several different days had been proposed by various Christian groups. Surprising as it may seem, Clement doesn’t mention December 25 at all.
Clement writes: “There are those who have determined not only the year of our Lord’s birth, but also the day; and they say that it took place in the 28th year of Augustus, and in the 25th day of [the Egyptian month] Pachon [May 20 in our calendar]…And treating of His Passion, with very great accuracy, some say that it took place in the 16th year of Tiberius, on the 25th of Phamenoth [March 21]; and others on the 25th of Pharmuthi [April 21] and others say that on the 19th of Pharmuthi [April 15] the Savior suffered. Further, others say that He was born on the 24th or 25th of Pharmuthi [April 20 or 21].”2
Like accuracy matters, yeah? There’s the oft-suggested likelihood that the day was chosen specifically because of Roman celebrations around that time of year. But as obvious an idea as that is, this writer claims it can’t be possible because they don’t have any early documentation that says so. Therefore it can’t possibly be true.
Despite its popularity today, this theory of Christmas’s origins has its problems. It is not found in any ancient Christian writings, for one thing. Christian authors of the time do note a connection between the solstice and Jesus’ birth: The church father Ambrose (c. 339–397), for example, described Christ as the true sun, who outshone the fallen gods of the old order. But early Christian writers never hint at any recent calendrical engineering; they clearly don’t think the date was chosen by the church. Rather they see the coincidence as a providential sign, as natural proof that God had selected Jesus over the false pagan gods.
Right, because that’s more likely to be the real reason…
Another funny I didn’t know about. Christ’s conception gets celebrated in Catholic circles on March 25th. It’s the Feast of Annunciation and (break added):
Scholars are not completely sure whether the date of the Annunciation influenced the date of Christmas, or vice-versa. Before the Church adopted fixed days of celebration, early Christians speculated on the dates of major events in Jesus’ life. Second-century Latin Christians in Rome and North Africa tried to find the day in which Jesus died.
By the time of Tertullian (d. AD 225) they had concluded that he died on Friday, March 25, AD 29 (incidentally, this is an impossibility, since March 25 in the year AD 29 was not a Friday). How does the day of Jesus’ death relate to the day of his conception? It comes from the Jewish concept of the “integral age” of the great Jewish prophets. This is the notion that the prophets of Israel died on the same dates as their birth or conception. Therefore, if Jesus died on March 25, he was also conceived that day.
Interesting bit of mystical numerology going on there. Speaking of, what do the numbers say for anyone born today?
This month requires you to reflect on your life since April. Determine what’s been good and what’s been bad. Choose the best seeds (aspects of your life) while throwing away the bad. You will be given another opportunity in February of next year to reflect upon your life once again, but start reflecting now. Then in March, plant your chosen seeds… choose your seeds carefully. The quality seeds you plant in March will then govern your life until the end of October next year. This is ultimately a month of dreaming and planning. If you plant wise seeds in March then you will create a beautiful garden (success) in October. This month provides you with the rare opportunity or ability to mentally discern, with sound judgment, the negatives and positives since April.
Soooo … they took his date of death, assigned the same day to his conception and worked forward for a birthdate which doesn’t correspond at all to the earliest possible references to his actual birthdate.
I am not at all surprised.
It’s within the realm of possibility anyway.