Why Christmas is on the 25th of December
The surface explanation for why Christians celebrate Christmas in December, although upon closer investigation, Jesus was not born in midwinter, is that once Christianity/Catholicism became the official religion of the Roman empire, full of pagans, it became a habit of the Church, to just adopt all or most of the pagan holidays, and give them Christian names and twists. Sometimes they even kept the name, as with Easter (Ashtoreth (Semiramis) the fertility goddess, hence the eggs and bunnies etc.) as well as pagan habits; the Catholic Church is rife with them, the Protestant churches less so, but still, unless they’re a very strict sect like the Jehovah Witnesses or Seventh Day, everyone celebrates Christmas in December, and it is widely assumed that is because “we’hijacked the Pagan midwinter (“Yule”) celebrations and just made them our own, as with the others.
First of all, let me say that the JW and SDA and whoever rejects “pagan Christmas” has a teensy tiny point. Jesus was not born in December and that is a known fact. All, and I mean all, of the Christmas traditions, ARE from pagan origins – the decorated tree (which children are made to bow down to as they get their presents); the yule log, all the candles and lights. Even a Christmas stable is kind of pagan, as generally we’re not supposed to make images. No really, it even used to be a rule in Hollywood that if you had a movie with Jesus in it, you couldn’t show his face. Don’t believe me? Watch Ben Hur! So, yes, they have a point, and are moreover supported by the complete absence of any commandment to observe this birth in Bethlehem annually, and the presence of passages such as Colossians chapter 2, which condemn the keeping of special days or traditions, in general.
However and but. If it’s a hijacked Pagan midwinter holiday, then why isn’t it on the 21st? Trust me, the winter solstice has *always* fallen on that date. But Christmas doesn’t, it’s four days later. That’s not a little bit off, it’s a lot off. So here we have a situation where the Church is supposed to have forced one more Pagan tradition to become Christian, then got the date completely wrong? And they previously changed the date of Easter around just to upset the Jews, so they could have made it the 21st, had they wanted to. If that was done so as not to interfere with local Pagans doing the Winter Solstice thing, that would completely defeat the point, either you hijack a tradition or you don’t. And it’s clear that nothing gets celebrated on the 21st, in the Western (Christian-based) nations; no, we’re all shopping for Christmas, four days away. No, the Pagan traditions are gone; insofar as they’re present, they’re hidden away in meaningless decorations for a holiday that comes later.
It is a habit of Protestants, especially Bible fundies, to reject everything the Church has done in the past (see “strict sects” above). This is unfair, because many of them WERE good Christians, and the further back you go, to where they actually knew Peter, Paul, John, etc., personally, the more sense they make, and could teach us something. We use Bible commentaries, don’t we? Our Pastors and teachers publish books and study materials, don’t they? That is how their material can be seen, and, behold, some of the things they put in place and are still in place, even in the Catholic Church, actually were based on scripture and done right. Such as, and you knew this was coming, December 25th.
In the Hebrew calendar and tradition, a child’s birthday is the day of its conception, with a pregnancy assumed to be 40 weeks. So when later in Bethlehem it’s said, all boys of two and younger were killed, what this means is, nursing babies, not walking toddlers like in our day. And it also means, that Jesus’ actual birthday actually is December 25th, for it can be calculated by the courses of the High Priest from the story of the birth of John the Baptist, from which we can calculate the announcement of the pregnancy of Mary six months later, that Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, September 29th. This is why it was so crowded at the inn – it could not possibly have been because so many people had roots in Bethlehem, it even is written how small it is and always has been. The House of David had its roots there and Joseph and Mary were just about all of it that was left; their very distant sort-of cousin Herod was on the throne, and apparently didn’t need to go anywhere. The inns were crowded because it was holiday time, two weeks of it, people were supposed to be building huts out in the open, but also go to the Temple in Jerusalem, and Bethlehem happens to be within fairly easy walking distance from it. Also, for the population count, *lots* of people would have to go to Jerusalem for their family roots. Oh, as I am typing this, I know why they (everyone) had to go to their city of family origins – that would be where they’d have the official records, and you had to show up in person with ID same as today!
So anyway. September 29th, in Bethlehem, where there was no room at the inn, and no room means, no room, not in the stables, either. And they probably arrived on animals, or at least a donkey for Mary, Joseph was not a poor man, the family was what would be considered nobility in past ages. Impoverished nobility, maybe, since Joseph was working for a living; then again, he would make good money knowing how to build and repair (does your plumber make good money? bet he does – Joseph’s age, everything was wood). But still, the image of Joseph and Mary as arriving in Bethlehem destitute, from poverty back Nazareth, is incorrect. Joseph is called “son of David” by his contemporaries just like his adopted son, Jesus Himself, because they were known to be direct descendants of David, which is why it specifically had to be Bethlehem’s ancient days version of City Hall, they had to get to. They had money to overnight at the inn, just no way to make reservations like we can in our days, and it was packed because everybody else had to be in Jerusalem and I will bet they had to wait *days* there, so there they were occupying the inn at night.
How else do we know it was not in Winter? Shepherds do not keep their flocks out at night in Winter, nor camp out themselves with them, out in the open. Sheep are in the sheepfold at night when it’s cold, and no grass is there for them to graze on anyway. Late September in the Middle East is a fine time to have sheep out and also a fine time to be out in the fields with them. I also heard lately, an assumption that these shepherds were somehow lowly people, as in, considered low-class, but I can hardly imagine that, since the Royal Family came from a shepherd boy, David. Psalm 23 can’t possibly use Shepherd for the Lord if it’s something with negative connotations.
Counting back 40 weeks from September 29th, in case you haven’t already done so, arrives at December 25th. The only “mistake” that was made is to shift the actual birth to that date, and re-shift all the dates (Annunciation etc.) so that average Christians and even most of the strict sect critics and everybody else now believes in the wrong date for the right reason, or the right date for the wrong reason, depends how you look at it. Baby Jesus began as a Promise, given way back in Genesis, repeated to Abraham, to David, and then, to Mary. The word of God became flesh. And the word of God is light. And angels did announce it, Gabriël visited Daniël, and then Mary. And then Mary and Elizabeth sang. Unlike the host of angels at the actual birth 40 weeks later in the Fall of the following year, who merely *said* what people everywhere now assume they sang. Just like they assume that since there wasn’t room at the inn, that meant there was room at the stable. Nuh-uh. That manger stood in the middle of Bethlehem (hence *the* manger not a manger, the central feeding trough for travellers’ and villagers’ animals), on the street – Mary gave birth on blankets in an alley nearby and put her child in the nearest safe and dry and warm place, with of course themselves nearby to keep animals away for awhile. I bet they didn’t even expect company, just sitting there glad all had gone well and talking about the promises they had received, that were now so real.
The Magi (there were probably only two of them, and they weren’t kings, either, but, powerful enough at any rate) arrived sometime later, when Joseph had secured a house, and what happened to them is actually funny, if you imagine, again, that just like the population count thing, part of getting to visit a royal palace is the bureacracy, getting through the guards and the office, Who are you? And you want to see what? There’s been a son born? WHY haven’t I been informed, let me send someone over…BAM the entire royal palace and city are wondering, is there a son or isn’t there and if not why are the Magi here talking about a sign from the heavens? But Herod, who is Jewish enough to know his scriptures, knows to ask the scribes and Pharisees, and he tells the Magi what they tell him, namely, no, it’s in Bethlehem, go see it and by all means come back and tell me all about it! When they don’t, having been warned by an angel not to return to Herod, he has all the babies in Bethlehem killed, while Joseph has had warning too and taken Mary and the child and fled to Egypt.
But I reallydidn’t bring up the Magi story to discuss the Magi, but to point out something about those court scribes and Pharisees. Here they had Magi from Babylon telling them a royal and even divine son had been born, and they knew it was the Messiah because they pointed them to Bethlehem! And then remained with Herod, or went back home, I don’t know. Instead of following the Magi, hastily collecting their own gifts to bring, and telling Herod right then and there, we are so done being at your beck and call you imposter, bye. To go pay homage to their Messiah and King, it can’t possibly have escaped their attention either that the High Priest had a miracle happen to him just awhile ago and had made it know why. If they knew enough to tell the Magi to go to Bethlehem, they also knew precisely who it was they might find there, but decided, nah, we’ll wait till they come back and then maybe. Then when they heard all the boys were killed, that was that. Oh, and then when He does make Himself known, much later, they call him a fake “because no prophet comes from Nazareth, read it for yourself.” No wonder they always upset Him so, and John the Baptist before him.
So anyway. Be it known to all atheists, that the gospels are THE most authenticated, best verified bits of ancient history mankind possesses, bar none. Be it known also, all the way around, that December 25th really is the right date, though not of the actual birth; but since it’s okay to bring in Tammuz trees and Santa and all that bit, and have a holiday that is literally uncalled for, I guess it’s okay to squint and do away with nine month’s time and have a stable in midwinter with the shepherds, the Magi, Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus in a manger. It’s so everyone gets the picture, and is reminded every year, that Jesus came to save mankind. It would have been better, to focus a lot more on Pesach, have it on the right date, stop calling it Easter, proclaim the resurrection with as much fanfare as Christmas gets – but, it gets the gospel out there, it brings people to church, it is considered by all who celebrate it, which includes the partying secular world, a positive and happy aspect of our culture. So to all, everywhere, especially now, when so many of us are subdued under the threat of Islam – and to Moslims especially, now that I mention them: A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Isaiah 9: 6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.