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Christmas is the day when all the Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. The name of this celebration comes from the Mass (Communion) of Christ. It would be the only service held after the sunset and before the sunrise of the next day (that is why people do celebrate Christmas at midnight).
People around the world, both Christians and non-Christians, celebrate Christmas. It’s the day when families and friends reunite to spend time together. They give presents to each other, and this is one of the reasons people, especially kids, love this day so much. But let’s see why we celebrate Christmas on December 25-th.
Christmas around the world: The origins
How do we know the date of Christmas? That’s a good question! After all, the Bible doesn’t give us any specific day of Jesus birthday. The history says that the first time when Christmas was celebrated on December 25-th was in 336 when Constantine was the Roman Emperor. After a few years, Pope Julius I made this date official. There are several theories on why this specific day was chosen.
- Mary was told that she would have a baby on March 25th. We celebrate this day as the Annunciation. And December 25th is exactly nine months after it.
- Winter Solstice feast was celebrated in December. On this day, the pagans observed the shortest time between the sun rising and setting. After this day, the daytime begins to increase. For the pagans, this celebration meant the end of winter and the beginning of spring, or winning of the sun over the darkness.
- Ancient pagan Romans used to have a feast called Saturnalia at around the same time in December. It was held to honor God Saturn. It was believed to be the day when the sun was born.
- Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, is also held in December. They observe the day when the Jews were allowed to worship in the temples after long years of oppression.
- The early Church celebrated Christmas on January 6th. This was the day when it was revealed that Jesus was the Son of God and when He was baptized. Orthodox followers still celebrate Christmas on the 7-th of January.
Many of the customs of all these old celebrations were taken to give them Christian meanings. And it’s quite logical – after all, Christ combines all the qualities celebrated on this day. He’s the Son of God, the Sun and the Light of the world!
But still, was He really born on December 25th?
Not necessarily! There are practical reasons why He could be born in spring or autumn!
- Winter can be very cold, and it’s doubtful that shepherds would keep sheep out on the hills during that time.
- A Jewish festival called “Passover” takes place in March or April. For this feast, the Jews from all over the Roman Empire would travel to Jerusalem. Bethlehem is not far from Jerusalem, and perhaps, that’s why Mary and Joseph were there.
- Many people who have read the Bible attentively think that “Sukkoth”, another Jewish festival, might have been the time for the birth of Jesus. This festival took place in September or October, and most often, there was “no room in the inn” during that time.
- Remember that the Star of Bethlehem was shining when Christ was born? It’s more probable that it would shine in autumn or spring, not in winter.
Therefore, it’s not 100% exact that Jesus was born on December 25-th. But does that really matter if this celebration is so meaningful for all of us today?