What Day Was Jesus Born?
by Rayola Kelley
Q: You have probably had this question in the past…was Jesus born on Christmas day?
A: The best answer I can give you is that I really do not know. I have read various presentations as to why some believe He was born on Christmas, while others maintain He was not.
For example, there are those who believe that Jesus was born in the fall, not the winter. However, the eastern way of looking at birthdays is different from the western way. In some of the eastern culture, a person’s birthday is celebrated at the point of his or her conception, not at his or her birth. Some believe that if Jesus was born in the fall, it would put His miraculous conception around the late part of December, which would make it legitimate to celebrate His birthday in that time period.
Those who believe Jesus was not born on Christmas day point to the fact that it has its origins in pagan celebration. In fact, the first person to leave gifts was a man by the name of Nicholas. He was a Christian who was wealthy, but believed the Bible about giving his riches away. He used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and suffering. He later was made Bishop of Myra. Because of his great benevolence, he became known as Saint Nicholas.
The first Europeans to arrive in the New World brought St. Nicholas with them. However, the Puritans actually banned Christmas due to its questionable origins, and made it illegal to mention St. Nicolas’ name. But, in the early 1800’s Washington Irving reinvented Christmas by presenting what we now know as Santa Claus in different ways. In 1870 it became a national holiday.
The idea of Saint Nicholas went through various metaphoric presentations in America, but was ultimately repackaged as Santa Claus. As stated, Washington Irving is the one who gave Santa Claus much of his present identity.
Today in America, the inflated commercialism surrounding this holiday has made it pagan in many ways. However, the question is, as Christians can we celebrate an event that was clearly recorded in Scriptures?
To me, the date of Jesus’ birth remains a matter of speculation. However, if we as believers decide to recognize that He came into this world on December 25th, and use it as a witnessing tool, we need to maintain the integrity of it by making it a matter of heart adoration.
In order to make it about the matter of the heart, Christians need to put aside the commercial glitter and examine whether we celebrate a day, the idea of the event, sentimental feelings, or the actual Person of Jesus. It is true that Jesus is God’s greatest gift to mankind and that everything around His conception and birth was miraculous. However, that gift of God was wrapped in love, nurtured in obscurity, and brought forth as the Lamb of God who would die on a cross to redeem us.
Redemption, life, reconciliation, and hope are the real messages of Christmas. Personally, I see this holiday as an opportunity to lift up the only true message of peace and good will towards mankind. As a result, regardless of whether the date of Jesus’ birth is correct or not, Christmas is a glorious way to proclaim the unchanging message of heaven and sing about the incredible blessings that have been poured out through God’s greatest gift, a gift that has been freely offered to all the peoples of the world.